Proteomics based markers of clinical pain severity in juvenile idiopathic arthritis

Pediatr Rheumatol Online J. 2022 Jan 15;20(1):3. doi: 10.1186/s12969-022-00662-1.


Introduction: Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is a cluster of autoimmune rheumatic diseases occurring in children 16 years of age or less. While it is well-known that pain may be experienced during inflammatory and non-inflammatory states, much remains ambiguous regarding the molecular mechanisms that may drive JIA pain. Thus, in this pilot study, we explored the variability of the serum proteomes in relation to pain severity in a cohort of JIA patients.

Methods: Serum samples from 15 JIA patients (male and female, 12.7 ± 2.8 years of age) were assessed using liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS). Correlation analyses were performed to determine the relationships among protein levels and self-reported clinical pain severity. Additionally, how the expression of pain-associated proteins related to markers of inflammation (Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR)) or morphological properties of the central nervous system (subcortical volume and cortical thickness) implicated in JIA were also evaluated.

Results: 306 proteins were identified in the JIA cohort of which 14 were significantly (p < 0.05) associated with clinical pain severity. Functional properties of the identified pain-associated proteins included but were not limited to humoral immunity (IGLV3.9), inflammatory response (PRG4) and angiogenesis (ANG). Associations among pain-associated proteins and ESR (IGHV3.9, PRG4, CST3, VWF, ALB), as well as caudate nucleus volume (BTD, AGT, IGHV3.74) and insular cortex thickness (BTD, LGALS3BP) were also observed.

Conclusions: The current proteomic findings suggest both inflammatory- and non-inflammatory mediated mechanisms as potential factors associated with JIA pain. Validation of these preliminary observations using larger patient cohorts and a longitudinal study design may further point to novel serologic markers of pain in JIA.

Keywords: Inflammation; Juvenile idiopathic arthritis; Mass spectrometry; Pain; Proteomics.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Arthritis, Juvenile / blood*
  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / blood*
  • Male
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pilot Projects
  • Proteomics


  • Biomarkers