Stress-induced headache in the general working population is moderated by the NRCAM rs2300043 genotype

Scand J Pain. 2022 Oct 3. doi: 10.1515/sjpain-2022-0094. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Objectives: Earlier findings suggest that social stress such as abusive supervision may promote pain. In the present study we examine the possible moderating role of genetic variability in the NRCAM gene in this process.

Methods: The data were collected through a national survey drawn from the National Central Employee Register by Statistics Norway. A total of 1,205 individuals returned both the questionnaire and the saliva kit. Abusive supervision was scored by a 5-item version of the Tepper's 2,000 scale. Headache was measured on a four-category scale; 'not bothered,' 'a little bothered,' 'considerably bothered', 'seriously bothered'. Genotyping with regards to NRCAM rs2300043 was carried out using Taqman assay. Ordinal logistic regression was used to analyse the data.

Results: For males exposed to abusive supervision, those carrying the rs2300043 CC genotype reported the highest levels of headache. Women showed a trend towards the opposite pattern. Women with the rs2300043 CC genotype seem to have a weaker effect of abusive supervision regarding reported headache than their male counterparts with the CC genotype when exposed to abusive supervision.

Conclusions: The present results indicated that the association between abusive supervision and headache in men with the NRCAM rs2300043 C allele was stronger than in other men. This suggests that the NRCAM genotype in men is important for the tolerance of social stress e.g., repeated negative acts from a superior. In contrast, a trend, though non-significant, towards the opposite pattern was observed in women. Our result suggests that the NRCAM genotype in men manifestly affects stress-induced pain such as headache.

Keywords: NRCAM genotype; abusive supervision; headache; psychosocial stress.