Genetic variation in the beta-2 adrenergic receptor is associated with chronic musculoskeletal complaints in adolescents

Eur J Pain. 2012 Oct;16(9):1232-42. doi: 10.1002/j.1532-2149.2012.00131.x. Epub 2012 Mar 13.


Background: There is significant evidence to suggest that psychological and stress-related factors are important predictors of the onset of chronic widespread pain (CWP) and fibromyalgia (FM). The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, together with the efferent sympathetic/adrenomedullary system, influence all body organs (including muscles) during short- and long-term threatening stimuli. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between genetic variants in adrenergic candidate genes and chronic musculoskeletal complaints (MSCs) in adolescents.

Methods: Adolescents from the Western Australian Pregnancy (Raine) Cohort attending the 17-year cohort review completed a questionnaire containing a broad range of psychosocial factors and pain assessment (n = 1004). Blood samples were collected for DNA extraction and genotyping. Genotype data was obtained for 14 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in two candidate genes - beta-2 adrenergic receptor (ADRB2) and catecholamine-O-methyltransferase (COMT). Haplotypes were reconstructed for all individuals with genotype data.

Results and conclusion: Both female gender and poor mental health were associated with (1) an increased risk for chronic, disabling comorbid neck and low back pain (CDCP); and (2) an increase in the number of areas of pain. Of the 14 SNPs evaluated, only SNP rs2053044 (ADRB2, recessive model) displayed an association with CDCP [odds ratio (OR) = 2.49; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.25, 4.98; p = 0.01] and pain in three to four pain areas in the last month (OR = 1.86; 95% CI = 1.13, 3.06; p = 0.02). These data suggest that genetic variants in ADRB2 may be involved in chronic MSCs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Catechol O-Methyltransferase / genetics*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genotype
  • Haplotypes
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / genetics
  • Male
  • Musculoskeletal Pain / genetics*
  • Musculoskeletal Pain / psychology
  • Neck Pain / genetics
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pain Measurement
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta-2 / genetics*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • ADRB2 protein, human
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta-2
  • Catechol O-Methyltransferase