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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015, Article ID 349584, 9 pages
Review Article

Is the Experience of Thermal Pain Genetics Dependent?

Department of Anesthesia, Center of Head and Orthopedics, Copenhagen University Hospital, No. 4231, Blegdamsvej 9, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark

Received 4 August 2014; Revised 10 November 2014; Accepted 10 November 2014

Academic Editor: Chi-Un Pae

Copyright © 2015 Emilia Horjales-Araujo and Joergen B. Dahl. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


It is suggested that genetic variations explain a significant portion of the variability in pain perception; therefore, increased understanding of pain-related genetic influences may identify new targets for therapies and treatments. The relative contribution of the different genes to the variance in clinical and experimental pain responses remains unknown. It is suggested that the genetic contributions to pain perception vary across pain modalities. For example, it has been suggested that more than 60% of the variance in cold pressor responses can be explained by genetic factors; in comparison, only 26% of the variance in heat pain responses is explained by these variations. Thus, the selection of pain model might markedly influence the magnitude of the association between the pain phenotype and genetic variability. Thermal pain sensation is complex with multiple molecular and cellular mechanisms operating alone and in combination within the peripheral and central nervous system. It is thus highly probable that the thermal pain experience is affected by genetic variants in one or more of the pathways involved in the thermal pain signaling. This review aims to present and discuss some of the genetic variations that have previously been associated with different experimental thermal pain models.