Researchers at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, and Harvard University, USA, have made a groundbreaking step towards finding new therapies for fibromyalgia.
Therapies for fibromyalgia have been difficult to come by; however, researchers have discovered that the activation of glial cells causes inflammation in the brain of fibromyalgia patients, therefore paving the way for new therapies.
Difficulties of developing therapies for fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder that causes muscle pain, severe fatigue, insomnia and cognitive difficulties, with patients experiencing symptoms of pain and tenderness throughout the body. Unfortunately for sufferers, the causes of the difficult-to-treat pain disorder are predominantly unknown.
“The findings open the way for the development of completely new therapies for this currently difficult-to-treat condition,” says Professor Eva Kosek from the Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet.
Nevertheless, using PET brain imaging, researchers at Karolinska and Harvard, have now shown that glial cells, the immune cells of the central nervous system, are activated in the brains of patients with fibromyalgia. Therefore, opening the way for new therapies.
Research demonstrated that patients with fibromyalgia had elevated levels of certain inflammatory substances (cytokines) in the cerebrospinal fluid, suggesting inflammation of the central nervous system. Their findings were subsequently corroborated by other researchers, however the source of the inflammation remained unspecified.
Positron-emission topography (PET) brain imaging was used and the research team has now been able to demonstrate that the central nervous system’s immune cells, called glial cells, are activated and thus give rise to inflammation of the brain.
Kosek explains: “As far as we know, this is the first time it’s been shown that glial cells are involved in the pathogenesis of fibromyalgia.”
Opening the way for development
The results presented that in Swedish and American patients suffering with fibromyalgia, glial cells are activated in large parts of the cerebral cortex, and that the degree of activation was related to how tired the patient felt.
“The findings open the way for the development of completely new therapies for this currently difficult-to-treat condition,” says Kosek.
“The fact that scientific research is able to demonstrate objective aberrations in the brains of people with fibromyalgia will hopefully mitigate the suspicion with which patients are often treated by the health services and society.”
Today, an estimated 200,000 Swedes, the majority of them women, suffer from fibromyalgia. The brains of people with the condition are known to have an impaired ability to dampen pain signals, which means that things that are normally painless cause considerable discomfort.
So interesting,could long term major stress activate these glial cells,i am a long term sufferer of fmg.would be too late for me but would love to be a guinea pig for any trials.i have white spots on brain as well. Not cardasil.
Michelle hello why do you assume it is to late for you…. As far as I know fibromyalgia does not leave any permanent damage….. I am 50 years old and I was born with fibromyalgia it got worse when I was in my 30’s and I have been debilitated since…….. From what I understand about this disgusting disease is that it is reversible and one can live a pain free life even after 30 years of suffering……. Like they say “it ain’t over till it’s over”, All the best
Very impressive news i pray that this will end the suffering for all the kids living with this disgusting disease…. I have battled this dumb disease for 50 years I’m a survivor and proud of myself…….. Even though I’m old I would be grateful for just a few years of living a pain free life before I drop dead…. I never went on a vacation so I would go on a cruise thanks for the good news… Good news turns into great news all the best
I am 41 years old and have suffered with fibro for over 20 years and could be more than that, I have only just got help and a diagnosis. I was treat really badly by alot of GPS which are definitely not interested in diagnosis of fibro at all, I am now debilitated had to give up work which I love any treatment that could give a new lease of life would definitely be welcome