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Low Tolerance For Pain? Blame Genes

Update Date: Apr 21, 2014 09:17 AM EDT

Researchers have reportedly identified key genes that are responsible for high tolerance for pain in the body, according to a new study. 

The research involved 2,721 people who were diagnosed with chronic pain for certain genes which included COMT, DRD2, DRD1 and OPRK1. The participants of the study took prescription opioid pain medications. 

Subjects of the study were asked to rate their perception of pain on a scale from zero to 10 and those who rated their pain zero were not included in the study. 

Statistically the study found that nine percent of the participants had low pain perception, 46 percent had moderate and 45 percent of them reported high pain perception. 

Researchers noted that the DRD1 gene variant was 33 percent more prevalent in the low pain group than in the high pain group. Further, people with a moderate pain perception, the COMT and OPRK variants, were 25 percent. The DRD2 variant was 25 percent more common among those with a high pain perception compared to people with moderate pain, the press release noted.

"Our study is quite significant because it provides an objective way to understand pain and why different individuals have different pain tolerance levels," said study author Tobore Onojjighofia, MD, MPH, with Proove Biosciences and a member of the American Academy of Neurology in the press release. "Identifying whether a person has these four genes could help doctors better understand a patient's perception of pain."

"Chronic pain can affect every other part of life," added Onojjighofia. "Finding genes that may be play a role in pain perception could provide a target for developing new therapies and help physicians better understand their patients' perceptions of pain."

The study will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 66th Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, April 26 to May 3 2014.

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