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      The Relationship Between Androgens and Days per Month of Period Pain, Pelvic Pain, Headache, and TLR4 Responsiveness of Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells in Young Women with Dysmenorrhoea

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          Women bear a disproportionate burden of persistent pain conditions when compared to men. To determine whether the hormonal environment affects the clinical experience of pain, as measured by the days per month of pelvic pain (DPelvicPM), period pain (DPeriodPM), headache (DHeadachePM) or the in vitro EC 50 for Interleukin-1β (IL-1β) release following TLR4 stimulation with Lipopolysaccharide from Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells (PBMCs). Findings were stratified according to use or non-use of the oral contraceptive pill.

          Patients and Methods

          Fifty-six women aged 16–35 years, with minimal or severe dysmenorrhea, and use or non-use of the OC, were enrolled. Blood was collected on two occasions in a single menstrual cycle: Days 1–2 and Days 7–10. Hormonal analysis for testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone, Androstenedione, 3α-Androstanediol, 3β-androstanediol, estradiol, estrone, 17α-hydroxyprogesterone, progesterone, cortisol and sex-hormone binding globulin was undertaken using ultra-sensitive Liquid Chromatography Mass–Spectrometry (LC-MS). PBMCs were exposed to lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and the resulting Interleukin-1β output was determined.


          Non-users of the OC showed a strongly inverse correlation between a reducing free androgen index (FAI) and increasing DPelvicPM (p=0.0032), DPeriodPM (p=0.013), DHeadachePM (p=0.041). Non-users of the OC showed a significant increase in DPelvicPM (p=0.049) on Days 7–10. Modestly significant associations were found between reduced androgens and potentiated LPS-induced IL-1β (lower EC 50).


          This is the first study to investigate the relationship between the hormonal environment and activation of the immune system in young women with dysmenorrhoea-related pain conditions. Low androgen levels were consistently associated with increased pain. Translational implications for the findings are discussed.

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          Most cited references 56

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          Pathological pain and the neuroimmune interface.

          Reciprocal signalling between immunocompetent cells in the central nervous system (CNS) has emerged as a key phenomenon underpinning pathological and chronic pain mechanisms. Neuronal excitability can be powerfully enhanced both by classical neurotransmitters derived from neurons, and by immune mediators released from CNS-resident microglia and astrocytes, and from infiltrating cells such as T cells. In this Review, we discuss the current understanding of the contribution of central immune mechanisms to pathological pain, and how the heterogeneous immune functions of different cells in the CNS could be harnessed to develop new therapeutics for pain control. Given the prevalence of chronic pain and the incomplete efficacy of current drugs--which focus on suppressing aberrant neuronal activity--new strategies to manipulate neuroimmune pain transmission hold considerable promise.
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            Studying sex and gender differences in pain and analgesia: a consensus report.

            In September 2006, members of the Sex, Gender and Pain Special Interest Group of the International Association for the Study of Pain met to discuss the following: (1) what is known about sex and gender differences in pain and analgesia; (2) what are the "best practice" guidelines for pain research with respect to sex and gender; and (3) what are the crucial questions to address in the near future? The resulting consensus presented herein includes input from basic science, clinical and psychosocial pain researchers, as well as from recognized experts in sexual differentiation and reproductive endocrinology. We intend this document to serve as a utilitarian and thought-provoking guide for future research on sex and gender differences in pain and analgesia, both for those currently working in this field as well as those still wondering, "Do I really need to study females?"
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              Sex differences in pain and pain inhibition: multiple explanations of a controversial phenomenon.

               Jeffrey Mogil (2012)
              A clear majority of patients with chronic pain are women; however, it has been surprisingly difficult to determine whether this sex bias corresponds to actual sex differences in pain sensitivity. A survey of the currently available epidemiological and laboratory data indicates that the evidence for clinical and experimental sex differences in pain is overwhelming. Various explanations for this phenomenon have been given, ranging from experiential and sociocultural differences in pain experience between men and women to hormonally and genetically driven sex differences in brain neurochemistry.

                Author and article information

                J Pain Res
                J Pain Res
                Journal of Pain Research
                03 March 2021
                : 14
                : 585-599
                [1 ]Adelaide Medical School, University of Adelaide , Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
                [2 ]Statistical Revelations , Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
                [3 ]School of Paediatrics & Reproductive Health, University of Adelaide , Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
                [4 ]Robinson Research Institute, School of Pediatrics and Reproductive Health, University of Adelaide , Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
                [5 ]ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale Biophotonics, University of Adelaide , Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Susan F Evans Adelaide Medical School, University of Adelaide , PO Box 4025, Norwood South, Adelaide, 5067, South Australia, AustraliaTel +61 418 840 895Fax +61 8 8363 2911 Email susan.evans@adelaide.edu.au
                © 2021 Evans et al.

                This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms ( https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php).

                Page count
                Figures: 6, Tables: 10, References: 56, Pages: 15
                Funded by: the Australia New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA) Research Foundation and the Australian Research Council;
                The study was part funded by the Australia New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA) Research Foundation and the Australian Research Council (FT180100565).
                Original Research


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