Newswise — Researchers are uncovering specific cells and proteins in an animal model that are linked to inflammation processes that can lead to chronic pain. They have found certain proteins can be targeted and modulated by spinal cord stimulation (SCS) using an approach known as differential target multiplexed programming (DTMP). The implications of this work are significant for patient suffering with chronic pain.

A type of cells called glia maintain balance in neural tissues. However, when a patient experiences a nerve injury, these cells can become disrupted and respond with inflammation and pain. Doctors often choose SCS, which uses electrical signals, to alleviate the pain. With the DTMP approach, multiplexed electrical signals are programmed to modulate neurons and glial cells and promote a return to proper neural homeostatic balance.  The treatment has been shown to work in an animal model, and researchers are now using high throughput molecular biology techniques, such as transcriptomics and proteomics, to better understand the mode of action of SCS, particularly DTMP.

Given that proteins are the ultimate acting biological entities, the researchers have looked at the changes in the expression profile of thousands of proteins resulting from the pain model and how DTMP modulates them. The data has shown that proteins involved in inflammatory cascades are activated to maintain hypersensitivity in the neuropathic chronic pain state. DTMP was found to significantly reverse the expression of proteins affected by the pain model, which demonstrates a shift toward homeostatic neural/glial balance and analgesia.

The study received a Best of Meeting Abstract Award from the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine (ASRA) for its 19th Annual Pain Medicine Meeting, being held virtually November 20-22, 2020. Lead author Dana M. Tilley, PhD, will present Abstract #1414, “Differential Target Multiplexed Spinal Cord Stimulation Reverses Proteome Changes induced by a Peripheral Neuropathic Pain Model” on Saturday, November 21, at 1:15 pm.

ASRA is a professional member organization of more than 5,000 physicians and healthcare providers across the United States and the world. The vision of ASRA is to relieve the global burden of pain. ASRA is dedicated to advancing the science and practice of regional anesthesia and pain medicine to improve patient outcomes through research, education, and advocacy. Learn more at