Pain in autoimmune disorders

J Neurosci Res. 2017 Jun;95(6):1282-1294. doi: 10.1002/jnr.23844. Epub 2016 Jul 22.


Most autoimmune diseases are associated with pathological pain development. Autoimmune diseases with pathological pain include complex regional pain syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and Guillian-Barré syndrome to name a few. The present Review explores research linking the immune system to the development of pathological pain in autoimmune diseases. Pathological pain has been linked to T-cell activation and the release of cytokines from activated microglia in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord. New research on the role of autoantibodies in autoimmunity has generated insights into potential mechanisms of pain associated with autoimmune disease. Autoantibodies may act through various mechanisms in autoimmune disorders. These include the alteration of neuronal excitability via specific antigens such as the voltage-gated potassium channel complexes or by mediating bone destruction in rheumatoid arthritis. Although more research must be done to understand better the role of autoantibodies in autoimmune disease related pain, this may be a promising area of research for new analgesic therapeutic targets. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Keywords: Sjörden's syndrome; T cells; Th17; VGCC; autoantibodies; autoimmune disease; complex; immune system; microglia; pathological pain; regional pain syndrome; rheumatoid arthritis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases / complications*
  • Humans
  • Pain / etiology*