Plasma amino acids changes in complex regional pain syndrome

Pain Res Treat. 2013;2013:742407. doi: 10.1155/2013/742407. Epub 2013 Nov 4.


Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a severe chronic pain condition that most often develops following trauma. Blood samples were collected from 220 individuals, 160 CRPS subjects, and 60 healthy pain-free controls. Plasma amino acid levels were compared and contrasted between groups. L-Aspartate, L-glutamate, and L-ornithine were significantly increased, whereas L-tryptophan and L-arginine were significantly decreased in CRPS subjects as compared to controls. In addition, the L-kynurenine to L-tryptophan ratio demonstrated a significant increase, whereas the global arginine bioavailability ratio (GABR) was significantly decreased in the CRPS subjects. The CRPS subjects demonstrated a significant correlation between overall pain and the plasma levels of L-glutamate and the L-kynurenine to L-tryptophan ratio. CRPS subjects also showed a correlation between the decrease in plasma L-tryptophan and disease duration. This study shows that CRPS subjects exhibit significant changes in plasma levels of amino acids involved in glutamate receptor activation and in amino acids associated with immune function as compared to healthy pain-free controls. A better understanding of the role plasma amino acids play in the pathophysiology of CRPS may lead to novel treatments for this crippling condition.