Monday, September 19th
Adaptive Immunity and Autoimmune Dysfunction in Chronic Pain
The immune system can be divided into two functional arms: the innate and adaptive immune systems. While the contribution of innate immune cells and associated factors to acute and chronic pain have been well established, the roles of the adaptive immune cells are less clear. However, emerging data point to an involvement of T and B cells in pain regulation and that autoimmune mechanisms can promote chronic pain through various processes. This session will provide a brief overview of the adaptive immune system and highlight recent findings linking the adaptive immune cells and related factors to chronic pain. Rheumatoid arthritis will be used as one prime example to demonstrate how autoimmune components such release of autoreactive antibodies can contribute to pain chronicity, both in terms of a direct effect on neurons via Fc-gamma receptors and indirect by actions on other non-immune cells such as osteoclasts. The importance of interdisciplinary research will also be illustrated – with examples of how collaboration across fields has accelerated our understanding of pain in rheumatoid arthritis.