Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada

Circadian control of pain and neuroinflammation in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis

Principal Investigator: Dr. Nader Ghasemlou

Affiliation: Queen’s University

Year awarded: 2018-2019

Amount Awarded: $308,134

Keywords: Chronic pain, circadian rhythms, neuroinflammation

Summary:

  • Chronic pain, impacting more than 50% of individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS), is associated with inflammation in the brain and spinal cord in MS as well circadian (24-hour) rhythms.
  • Early research has identified a role for circadian rhythms in disease progression in MS, however, whether circadian rhythms regulate pain and inflammation in MS is unknown.
  • The research team will:
    • Alter circadian rhythms while monitoring changes in inflammation (on a cellular and molecular level) and pain
    • Identify inflammatory mediators that increase the sensation of pain

Project Description:

More than 50% of individuals with MS experience chronic pain. An area of focus for Dr. Nader Ghasemlou’s lab is to better understand the contribution of the body’s natural rhythms – chronobiological rhythms controlled by time of day, month, or year – to the development of pain and disability in MS. Recent evidence from his lab has shown that neuroinflammation directly affects pain outcomes and circadian (24-hour) rhythms control chronic pain in animal models of chronic injury and disease. There is also now evidence pointing to an important role for circadian rhythms in disease progression in MS and in a mouse model used to mimic disease. Whether circadian rhythms can affect the generation and maintenance of pain and neuroinflammation in MS remains unknown. The research team will use an animal model of MS to assess how the “internal clock” controls clinical manifestations of MS, with a focus on pain and neuroinflammation. This project focuses on changes to the neuroinflammatory response (at the cellular and molecular level) and pain (using behavioural assays), all while exploiting changes in circadian rhythms. The goal is to identify specific inflammatory mediators that serve to increase the sensation of pain.

Potential Impact: Identifying novel, non-opioid therapeutic targets for the unmet need for effective treatments for chronic pain.

Project Status: In Progress