Brain mechanisms of chronic pain: critical role of translational approach

Joana Barroso, Paulo Branco, Apkar Vania Apkarian*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Chronic pain is a leading cause of disability worldwide and its prevalence is likely to increase over the next decades. Treatment for chronic pain remains insufficient and therapeutical advances have not made comparable progress with that for many chronic disorders, thus amplifying the concern on the future burden of the disease. At the same time, and even after decades of intense research, the underlying pathophysiology of chronic pain remains minimally understood. We believe advancing our current understanding of chronic pain requires mechanistically explicit, hypothesis-driven, and clinically focused models. In this review we highlight some of the main findings over the last decades that have contributed to the present knowledge of brain mechanisms of chronic pain, and how such advances were possible due to a reverse translational research approach. We argue that this approach is essential in the chronic pain field, in order to generate new scientific hypotheses, probe physiological mechanisms, develop therapeutic strategies and translate findings back into promising human clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)76-89
Number of pages14
JournalTranslational Research
StatePublished - Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Biochemistry, medical


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