Nouveaux biomarqueurs d'imagerie pour prévenir la douleur chronique et mieux comprendre son traitement

 

Philippe Goffaux

Université de Sherbrooke

 

Domaine : neurosciences, santé mentale et toxicomanies

Programme chercheurs-boursiers - Junior 2

Concours 2015-2016

Preventing the development of chronic pain is a medical challenge. One of the reasons for this is that predictive models of chronic pain have not paid sufficient attention to pain-related brain 'circuits'.  We argue, based on recent neuroimaging evidence, that pain regulation and pain memory-encoding circuits in the brain will serve as biomarkers of chronic pain development in humans.  Chronic pain is also very difficult to treat once it has set-in.  This is because chronic pain weakens pain control circuits and depletes the central nervous system of the endogenous bioamines (serotonin and noradrenalin) it needs to fend-off pain.  We propose that pharmacological treatments which normalize the concentration of endogenous bioamines will strengthen pain regulation responses, normalize the concentration of excitatory and inhibitory neurometabolites in the brain, and, lessen the intensity of chronic pain.

To study the factors which affect the development and remission of chronic pain in humans, I have set-up an innovative research program based on novel brain imaging techniques, multidisciplinary collaborations, and studies which involve testing both healthy adults and chronic pain patients.  My lab uses: i) brain imaging through electroencephalographic recordings and functional magnetic resonance imaging, ii) repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation to disrupt pain regulation circuits, and, iii) in-vivo magnetic resonance spectroscopy to measure brain neurometabolite concentrations. I foresee that a better understanding of the cerebral processes involved in pain processing will provide key insights into how separate brain regions work together to form functionally-coherent networks involved in the development and maintenance of chronic pain.