Chronic pain is the most prevalent health condition that modern humans face, and there is still no silver bullet for curing it. But recent research in pain processing may help scientists craft pain therapies that work better for people suffering from chronic pain- no matter their gender.
A recent study, published in Nature Neuroscience, looked at which cells were involved in pain transmission in male and female mice. The researchers were examining the longstanding theory that transmission of pain information involves a type of immune system cell called microglia. What they found is that microglia were only operant in pain transmission in the male mice. The female mice transmitted pain signals using a wholly different type of immune system cells known as T cells.
One of the authors noted, “…understanding the pathways of pain and sex differences is absolutely essential as we design the next generation of more sophisticated, targeted pain medications.” Another mentioned that this finding is so exciting, in part because, “…for the past 15 years scientists have thought that microglia controlled the volume knob on pain, but this conclusion was based on research using almost exclusively male mice.”