Can Implementation of Genetics and Pharmacogenomics Improve Treatment of Chronic Low Back Pain?


Department of Anesthesiology, Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center


Etiology of back pain is multifactorial and not completely understood, and for the majority of people who suffer from chronic low back pain (cLBP), the precise cause cannot be determined. We know that back pain is somewhat heritable, chronic pain more so than acute. The aim of this review is to compile the genes identified by numerous genetic association studies of chronic pain conditions, focusing on cLBP specifically. Higher-order neurologic processes involved in pain maintenance and generation may explain genetic contributions and functional predisposition to formation of cLBP that does not involve spine pathology. Several genes have been identified in genetic association studies of cLBP and roughly, these genes could be grouped into several categories, coding for: receptors, enzymes, cytokines and related molecules, and transcription factors. Treatment of cLBP should be multimodal. In this review, we discuss how an individual's genotype could affect their response to therapy, as well as how genetic polymorphisms in CYP450 and other enzymes are crucial for affecting the metabolic profile of drugs used for the treatment of cLBP. Implementation of gene-focused pharmacotherapy has the potential to deliver select, more efficacious drugs and avoid unnecessary, polypharmacy-related adverse events in many painful conditions, including cLBP.

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