Background: Proteomics analysis may provide important information regarding the pathogenesis of chronic myofascial pain and the mechanisms underlying the treatment effects of dry needling.
Materials and methods: This study used a rat model of myofascial trigger points (MTrPs) to perform a proteomics analysis. Three biological replicate experiments were used to compare the proteomes of healthy control rats, a rat model of MTrP, MTrP model rats following dry needling of MTrPs, and MTrP model rats following dry needling of non-MTrPs. Tandem mass tag (TMT) labeling technology based on nanoscale liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry was used. Hierarchical clustering, gene ontology (GO) analysis, Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) analysis, and protein-protein interaction network analysis were performed to characterize the proteins. To validate the TMT results, three candidate biomarker proteins were verified using parallel reaction monitoring and Western blot analysis.
Results: A total of 2,635 proteins were identified. GO and KEGG enrichment analyses showed that the glycolysis/gluconeogenesis pathways played dominant roles in the pathogenesis of chronic myofascial pain. The three candidate biomarker proteins were the pyruvate kinase muscle isozyme (encoded by the PKM gene), the muscle isoform of glycogen phosphorylase (encoded by the PYGM gene), and myozenin 2 (encoded by the MYOZ2 gene). The validation results were consistent with the TMT results.
Conclusion: This is the first proteomics study that has investigated the pathogenesis of chronic myofascial pain and the mechanisms underlying the treatment effects of dry needling in an in vivo rat model of MTrPs, which might promote our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying chronic myofascial pain.
Keywords: acupuncture; bioinformatics; mass spectrometry; musculoskeletal pain; parallel reaction monitoring; tandem mass tag.