The precise mechanisms of pain perception and transmission in the central nervous system have not been fully elucidated. However, extensive data support a role for the monoamine neurotransmitters, serotonin and norepinephrine, in the modulation of pain. Experiments with animal models of pain indicate that noradrenergic interventions, and to a lesser extent serotonergic interventions, reduce pain-related behavior. This is supported by data from clinical trials in humans in which antidepressants have been shown to reduce pain and functional impairment in central and neuropathic pain conditions. These effects are particularly well-studied in trials with serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), which have provided a useful tool in the clinicians arsenal, particularly considering the limitations of other classes of pain medications such as opioids, anti-inflammatories, and anticonvulsants (i.e., limited efficacy, safety and tolerability issues). Moreover, painful physical symptoms are frequently comorbid with major psychiatric disorders such as major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders. This paper reviewed and summarized the rationale and potential role of SNRIs for the control of pain including clinical and preclinical background. Currently evidence does not definitely support a role of the SNRIs, while limited data propose a putative promise of SNRIs in the treatment of pain related disorders including fibromyalgia and depressed patients with multiple somatic complaints. More researches are warranted to generalize currently available preliminary evidences.
Keywords: Role, serotonin, norepinephrine, pain control, SNRIs, modulation, pain pathways
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