Genetic Architecture of Human Pain Perception

Trends Genet. 2007 Dec;23(12):605-13. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2007.09.004. Epub 2007 Nov 26.


Pain is emotionally detrimental and consciously avoided; however, it is absolutely crucial for our survival. Pain perception is one of the most complicated measurable traits because it is an aggregate of several phenotypes associated with peripheral and central nervous system dynamics, stress responsiveness and inflammatory state. As a complex trait, it is expected to have a polygenic nature shaped by environmental pressures. Here we discuss what is known about these contributing genetic variants, including recent discoveries that show a crucial role of voltage-gated sodium channel Nav1.7 in pain perception and how we can advance our understanding of the pain genetic network. We propose how both rare deleterious genetic variants and common genetic polymorphisms are mediators of human pain perception and clinical pain phenotypes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromosome Mapping*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genotype
  • Headache / genetics
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Pain / classification
  • Pain / genetics*
  • Pain / pathology
  • Perception / physiology*
  • Phenotype
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / pathology
  • Signal Transduction / genetics