Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Alan Light 2007 Lecture: The Physiology of Chronic Pain and Fatigue

OFFER Utah (warning, their website plays music...) has a lot of lectures regarding ME/CFS on their OFFER Utah Youtube Channel. They have some very good and interesting lectures (and some less so). If you haven't already, you should subscribe to their Youtube channel, add the feed to your RSS-Reader, etc. ...

One very interesting video is this 44 minutes lecture by Alan Light:

This presentation by Alan R Light was made during the 2007 OFFER Provider's Conference. This lecture shows basically where Alan Light came from and his studies that lead up to the ME/CFS post-exertional gene-expression study "the Lights" (he and his wife Kathleen Light) have done together with Lucinda Bateman.

I had these take home messages:

1. Acute pain and fatigue sensing are protective and evolutionary important to prevent depletion or injury of important systems. If an living being has an impairment in sensing of pain and fatigue, it will usually die quite quickly. So there are multiple pathways in a living being to measure this information.

2. There are many concepts of fatigue. For ME/CFS fatigue is not sleepiness, fatigue is not failure of the muscle, but a sensory event – one could move the muscle with enough willpower.

3. The sensing of muscle-pain and fatigue happens by nerve sensory-endings located between the muscle and the blood vessels. Several metabolites (Lactate, ATP, pH/protons) are measured together by receptors (e.g. P2X4, P2X5, ASIC3, TRPV1) working together.

4. Fatigue and pain share receptors, but are not the same.

5. The sympathetic nervous system can restrict blood vessels to muscles that are not fatigued and increase blood flow to muscles that are.

6. Mononuclear blood cells have these receptors too, as they need to go "where the action is", where damage is, where things are going wrong and they are circulating through the muscles that are used.

7. Enhanced muscle pain is caused by cytokines, and if the blood flow is not increased (if the sympathetic nervous system does not regulate it properly), the metabolites in the muscles build up, and with it fatigue and pain.

8. The NIH (and the medical profession at general) are not interested and it is very difficult to get funding for these studies. All his research depends on the support by the university of Utah. There is some old medical "knowlegde" ("these receptors don't function at physiological ranges" etc.) that needs to be challenged and updated. This research that should have been done 25 years ago and the NIH is dragging its feet.
(I find it ironic that it is Alan Light's research in ME/CFS that improves the understanding in biological and medical sciences of how pain and fatigue work – after all the damage that Strauss et. al. have done with their psychosomatic bullshit, after all the damage Wessely and Sharpe are still doing today)

Don't miss Alan Light's 2011 follow-up lecture!

And don't miss Christopher Snell's 2012 lecture, which ties in nicely!

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