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Pro-inflammatory molecules are thought to underpin the development of chronic low back pain (LBP). Although research has begun to explore the association between pro-inflammatory molecules in acute LBP and long-term outcome, no study has explored the role of anti-inflammatory molecules. We aimed to explore whether levels of systemic pro- and anti-inflammatory molecules 1) changed over a period of six months from the onset of acute LBP; 2) differed between people who were recovered (N = 11) and unrecovered (N = 24) from their episode of LBP at six months; 3) baseline psychological factors were related to inflammatory molecule serum concentrations at baseline, three and six months. We retrospectively included participants with acute LBP included from a larger prospective trial and examined blood samples for the measurement of pro- and anti-inflammatory molecules and measures of pain, disability, and psychological factors at baseline, three and six months. The serum concentrations of pro- and anti-inflammatory molecules did not differ over time when compared between participants who recovered and those who did not recover at six-month follow-up. At three months, the unrecovered group had higher interleukin (IL)-8 and IL-10 serum concentrations than the recovered group. Baseline psychological factors were not related to inflammatory molecules at any time point. This exploratory study showed that levels of systemic inflammatory molecules did not change over the course of LBP, irrespective of whether people were recovered or unrecovered at six months. There was no relationship between acute-stage psychological factors and systemic inflammatory molecules. Further investigation is needed to elucidate the contribution of pro- and anti-inflammatory molecules to long-term LBP outcome. Copyright: © 2023 Chang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Wei-Ju Chang, Luke C Jenkins, Peter Humburg, Valerie Wasinger, David M Walton, Siobhan M Schabrun. Systemic pro- and anti-inflammatory profiles in acute non-specific low back pain: An exploratory longitudinal study of the relationship to six-month outcome. PloS one. 2023;18(6):e0287192

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PMID: 37384753

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