New research reveals a little-understood connection between chronic pain and anxiety, and offers a potential target for treatment, according to a release from the University of Vermont.
University of Vermont (UVM) researchers published their findings as an Article in Press in Biological Psychiatry. Their study revealed that increased expression of PACAP – a peptide neurotransmitter the body releases in response to stress – is also increased in response to neuropathic pain and contributes to these symptoms.
“Chronic pain and anxiety-related disorders frequently go hand-in-hand,” says senior author Victor May, Ph.D., professor of neurological sciences at the University of Vermont. May and members of the research team found that PACAP was also highly expressed in women exhibiting PTSD symptoms, in a 2011 study.
While May and his colleagues saw an increase in anxiety-related behaviors in models of chronic pain, the anxious behavior and pain hypersensitivity were significantly reduced when a PACAP receptor antagonist – designed to block the response – was applied.