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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Changes in pain and insulin-like growth factor 1 in fibromyalgia during exercise: the involvement of cerebrospinal inflammatory factors and neuropeptides

Jan L Bjersing12*, Mats Dehlin12, Malin Erlandsson1, Maria I Bokarewa12 and Kaisa Mannerkorpi13

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Rheumatology and Inflammation Research, Institute of Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Guldhedsgatan 10, Box 480, 40530 Göteborg, Sweden

2 Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Rheumatology, Gröna stråket 14, 413 45 Göteborg, Sweden

3 Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Physiotherapy and Occupational therapy, Vita stråket 13, 413 45 Göteborg, Sweden

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2012, 14:R162  doi:10.1186/ar3902

Published: 9 July 2012

Abstract

Introduction

Fibromyalgia (FM) is characterized by chronic pain. Impaired growth hormone responses and reduced serum insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) are common in FM. The aim was to examine changes in serum IGF-1, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), neuropeptides, and cytokines during aerobic exercise in FM patients.

Methods

In total, 49 patients (median age, 52 years) with FM were included in the study. They were randomized to either the moderate- to high-intensity Nordic Walking (NW) program (n = 26) or the supervised low-intensity walking (LIW) program (n = 23). Patients participated in blood tests before and after 15 weeks of aerobic exercise. Changes in serum levels of free IGF-1, pain rating on a 0- to 100-mm scale, pain threshold, and 6-minute walk test (6MWT) were examined. CSF, neuropeptides, matrix metalloproteinase 3 (MMP-3), and inflammatory cytokines were determined. Nonparametric tests were used for group comparisons and correlation analyses.

Results

Serum free IGF-1 levels did not change during 15 weeks of exercise between the two groups, although the 6MWT significantly improved in the NW group (p = 0.033) when compared with LIW. Pain did not significantly change in any of the groups, but tended to decrease (p = 0.052) over time in the total group. A tendency toward a correlation was noted between baseline IGF-1 and a decrease of pain in response to exercise (r = 0.278; p = 0.059). When adjusted for age, this tendency disappeared. The change in serum free IGF-1 correlated positively with an alteration in CSF substance P (SP) levels (rs = 0.495; p = 0.072), neuropeptide Y (NPY) (rs = 0.802; p = 0.001), and pain threshold (rs = 0.276; p = 0.058). Differing CSF SP levels correlated positively to a change in pain threshold (rs = 0.600; p = 0.023), whereas the shift in CSF MMP-3 inversely correlated with an altered pain threshold (rs = -0.569; p = 0.034).

Conclusions

The baseline level of serum free IGF-1 did not change during high or low intensity of aerobic exercise. Changes in IGF-1 correlated positively with a variation in CSF SP, NPY, and pain threshold. These data indicate a beneficial role of IGF-1 during exercise in FM.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00643006.