Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Bacteria Trigger Nerve Cells to Cause Pain

Bacteria (green) are found near neurons (red). Image by the researchers. Courtesy of Nature.

A tooth abscess, urinary tract infection, or other type of bacterial infection can cause intense pain. The pain is often accompanied by inflammation, which is produced by the immune system’s attack on the bacteria. It’s been thought that pain stems from immune cells, which release cytokines and growth factors that can induce inflammation and trigger sensory nerves.

A team led by Drs. Isaac M. Chiu and Clifford J. Woolf at Boston Children’s Hospital sought to better understand the pain caused by bacterial infections. Their research was funded by NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), and Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).


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