Electronic Poster | Session 2

078 – Analysis of genes underlying the development and maintenance of chronic spinal cord injury pain

Olivia Smith (1) – Courtney Bannerman (1) – Jihoon Choi (1) – Margot Gunning (1) – Scott Duggan (2) – Qingling Duan (1) – Nader Ghasemlou (1)
Queen’s University, Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, Kingston, Canada (1) – Anesthesiology Department, Kingston General Hospital, Kingston, Canada (2)

Chronic pain affects 60-80% of people living with spinal cord injury (SCI), making day-to-day life exceedingly more difficult. Current treatment options, with opioids as the gold-standard, are ineffective at best and can carry risks including addiction, tolerance, and dependence. There is therefore a need for more specific and safer treatment strategies. We have now identified specific genes in circulating immune cells of SCI patients who develop chronic pain using Weighted Gene Co-expression Network Analysis (WGCNA) and KEGG pathway analysis. This human dataset is used to identify those genes/pathways expressed in the mouse. To this end, we developed a modified SCI contusion injury model using the Infinite Horizons spinal cord impactor that results in increased mechanical and thermal hypersensitivity after compression, in comparison to contusion injury alone. Expression patterns of specific genes and pathways of interest from the human dataset are assessed using quantitative PCR in our pain/no pain models of SCI. Our work seeks to better understand the mechanisms underlying the development and maintenance of chronic SCI pain, with a focus on the contribution of the immune response to functional outcomes after injury.