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Quantitative proteomics analysis to identify biomarkers of chronic myofascial pain and therapeutic targets of dry needling in a rat model of myofascial trigger points

Authors Li L, Huang Q, Barbero M, Liu L, Nguyen T, Beretta-Piccoli M, Xu A, Ji L

Received 4 September 2018

Accepted for publication 12 November 2018

Published 7 January 2019 Volume 2019:12 Pages 283—298


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Michael A Überall

Li-Hui Li,1,2 Qiang-Min Huang,1 Marco Barbero,2 Lin Liu,3 Thi-Tham Nguyen,4 Matteo Beretta-Piccoli,2 An-Le Xu,1 Li-Juan Ji1

1Department of Sport Medicine and Rehabilitation Center, Shanghai University of Sport, Shanghai, China; 2Rehabilitation Research Laboratory 2rLab, Department of Business Economics Health and Social Care, University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland, Manno, Switzerland; 3Nanjing Sport Institute, Sport and Health Science Department, Nanjing, China; 4Faculty of Sport Science, Ton Duc Thang University, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Background: Proteomics analysis may provide important information regarding the pathogenesis of chronic myofascial pain and the mechanisms underlying the treatment effects of dry needling.
Materials and methods: This study used a rat model of myofascial trigger points (MTrPs) to perform a proteomics analysis. Three biological replicate experiments were used to compare the proteomes of healthy control rats, a rat model of MTrP, MTrP model rats following dry needling of MTrPs, and MTrP model rats following dry needling of non-MTrPs. Tandem mass tag (TMT) labeling technology based on nanoscale liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry was used. Hierarchical clustering, gene ontology (GO) analysis, Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) analysis, and protein–protein interaction network analysis were performed to characterize the proteins. To validate the TMT results, three candidate biomarker proteins were verified using parallel reaction monitoring and Western blot analysis.
Results: A total of 2,635 proteins were identified. GO and KEGG enrichment analyses showed that the glycolysis/gluconeogenesis pathways played dominant roles in the pathogenesis of chronic myofascial pain. The three candidate biomarker proteins were the pyruvate kinase muscle isozyme (encoded by the PKM gene), the muscle isoform of glycogen phosphorylase (encoded by the PYGM gene), and myozenin 2 (encoded by the MYOZ2 gene). The validation results were consistent with the TMT results.
Conclusion: This is the first proteomics study that has investigated the pathogenesis of chronic myofascial pain and the mechanisms underlying the treatment effects of dry needling in an in vivo rat model of MTrPs, which might promote our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying chronic myofascial pain.

Keywords: musculoskeletal pain, acupuncture, bioinformatics, mass spectrometry, tandem mass tag, parallel reaction monitoring

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