Adrenergic receptor beta(2) (ADRB2) is a primary target for epinephrine. It plays a critical role in mediating physiological and psychological responses to environmental stressors. Thus, functional genetic variants of ADRB2 will be associated with a complex array of psychological and physiological phenotypes. These genetic variants should also interact with environmental factors such as physical or emotional stress to produce a phenotype vulnerable to pathological states. In this study, we determined whether common genetic variants of ADRB2 contribute to the development of a common chronic pain condition that is associated with increased levels of psychological distress and low blood pressure, factors which are strongly influenced by the adrenergic system. We genotyped 202 female subjects and examined the relationships between three major ADRB2 haplotypes and psychological factors, resting blood pressure, and the risk of developing a chronic musculoskeletal pain condition-Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD). We propose that the first haplotype codes for lower levels of ADRB2 expression, the second haplotype codes for higher ADRB2 expression, and the third haplotype codes for higher receptor expression and rapid agonist-induced internalization. Individuals who carried one haplotype coding for high and one coding for low ADRB2 expression displayed the highest positive psychological traits, had higher levels of resting arterial pressure, and were about 10 times less likely to develop TMD. Thus, our data suggest that either positive or negative imbalances in ADRB2 function increase the vulnerability to chronic pain conditions such as TMD through different etiological pathways that imply the need for tailored treatment options.
(c) 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.