Heritability of nociception II. 'Types' of nociception revealed by genetic correlation analysis

Pain. 1999 Mar;80(1-2):83-93. doi: 10.1016/s0304-3959(98)00196-1.


Clinical pain syndromes, and experimental assays of nociception, are differentially affected by manipulations such as drug administration and exposure to environmental stress. This suggests that there are different 'types' of pain. We exploited genetic differences among inbred strains of mice in an attempt to define these primary 'types'; that is, to identify the fundamental parameters of pain processing. Eleven randomly-chosen inbred mouse strains were tested for their basal sensitivity on 12 common measures of nociception. These measures provided for a range of different nociceptive dimensions including noxious stimulus modality, location, duration and etiology, among others. Since individual members of inbred strains are identical at all genetic loci, the observation of correlated strain means in any given pair of nociceptive assays is an index of genetic correlation between these assays, and hence an indication of common physiological mediation. Obtained correlation matrices were subjected to multivariate analyses to identify constellations of nociceptive assays with common genetic mediation. This analysis revealed three major clusters of nociception: (1) baseline thermal nociception, (2) spontaneously-emitted responses to chemical stimuli, and (3) baseline mechanical sensitivity and cutaneous hypersensitivity. Many other nociceptive parameters that might a priori have been considered closely related proved to be genetically divergent.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Genotype
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Pain / genetics*
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Pain Measurement*
  • Reaction Time
  • Species Specificity