Changes in plasma cytokines and their soluble receptors in complex regional pain syndrome

Guillermo M. Alexander, B. Lee Peterlin, Marielle J. Perreault, John R. Grothusen, Robert J. Schwartzman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a chronic and often disabling pain disorder. There is evidence demonstrating that neurogenic inflammation and activation of the immune system play a significant role in the pathophysiology of CRPS. This study evaluated the plasma levels of cytokines, chemokines, and their soluble receptors in 148 subjects afflicted with CRPS and in 60 gender- and age-matched healthy controls. Significant changes in plasma cytokines, chemokines, and their soluble receptors were found in subjects with CRPS as compared with healthy controls. For most analytes, these changes resulted from a distinct subset of the CRPS subjects. When the plasma data from the CRPS subjects was subjected to cluster analysis, it revealed 2 clusters within the CRPS population. The category identified as most important for cluster separation by the clustering algorithm was TNFα. Cluster 1 consisted of 64% of CRPS subjects and demonstrated analyte values similar to the healthy control individuals. Cluster 2 consisted of 36% of the CRPS subjects and demonstrated significantly elevated levels of most analytes and in addition, it showed that the increased plasma analyte levels in this cluster were correlated with disease duration and severity. Perspective: The identification of biomarkers that define disease subgroups can be of great value in the design of specific therapies and of great benefit to the design of clinical trials. It may also aid in advancing our understanding of the mechanisms involved in the pathophysiology of CRPS, which may lead to novel treatments for this very severe condition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10-20
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Pain
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • CRPS
  • Cytokines
  • cluster analysis
  • cytokine soluble receptors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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