University of Illinois at Chicago

Quantitative Sensory Testing Reference Values for Healthy African American Adults

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posted on 2018-07-25, 00:00 authored by Keesha Lenee Roach
The goal of this research is to understand thermal/mechanical detection, pain thresholds, and pain perception in a healthy African American adult sample. Over 100 million adults have some type of common chronic pain, which results in a socioeconomic burden that ranges between $560 to $635 billion annually. Despite the high prevalence of painful conditions, African Americans are routinely under-treated for their pain. Barriers to adequately address this problem are lack of sufficient information about genetic variability in the pain process and reference values for measures of nervous system function in healthy African American adults. Quantitative sensory testing (QST) is a widely-accepted method for assessing cool and warm detection, pain thresholds (in degrees Celsius) and detection of pressure (in grams of force). It measures the functional status of the somatosensory system. We obtained QST reference values from 125 healthy African American adult volunteers, for the purposes of characterizing thermal detection, thermal pain thresholds, and detection to pressure using QST measures. Measures include mechanical QST using von Frey filaments (pressure sensation and pain detection), thermal QST (cool/warm detection, heat/cold pain thresholds). In addition, pain genetics investigators have recently examined allele frequencies of single nucleotide polymorphisms from candidate genes in people who suffer with SCD. One of the genes identified was the arginine vasopressin receptor 1A gene (AVPR1A) and its associated single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs10877969. Progress in explaining pain related polymorphisms can be facilitated by understanding the literature. The results of this review revealed that AVPR1A is associated with behavioral phenotypes, which include pair bonding, Autism Spectrum Disorder, musical aptitude, infidelity, altruism, monogamy, mating, substance abuse, and alcohol preference. In addition, there were associations with pain, stress pain by sex, and sickle cell pain. Together, this work is important because it synthesizes the role of the AVPR1A gene and its pain related SNP rs10877969, which provides a lens through which the variation of QST reference values can be viewed. The reference values obtained from healthy African American adults in this study will allow health care providers to improve treatment of individuals from this population who have chronic debilitating pain.



Rutherford, Julienne N


Rutherford, Julienne N


Department of Women, Children & Family Health Science

Degree Grantor

University of Illinois at Chicago

Degree Level

  • Doctoral

Committee Member

Schlaeger, Judith M Patil, Crystal L Molokie, Robert E Wang, Zaijie J Wilkie, Diana J

Submitted date

May 2018

Issue date


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