Fibromyalgia (FM) diagnosis follows the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria, based on clinical evaluation and written questionnaires without any objective diagnostic tool. The lack of specific biomarkers is a tragic aspect for FM and chronic pain diseases in general. Interestingly, the endogenous opioid system is close to the immune one because of the expression of opioid receptors on lymphocytes membrane. Here we analyzed the role of the Mu opioid receptor on B lymphocytes as a specific biomarker for FM and osteoarthritis (OA) patients. We enrolled three groups of females: FM patients, OA patients (chronic pain control group) and healthy subjects (pain-free negative control group). We collected blood samples to apply immunophenotyping analysis. Written tests were administrated for psychological analysis. Data were statistically analyzed. Final results showed that the percentage of Mu-positive B cells were statistically lower in FM and OA patients than in pain-free subjects. A low expression of Mu-positive B cell was not associated with the psychological characteristics investigated. In conclusion, here we propose the percentage of Mu-positive B cells as a biological marker for an objective diagnosis of chronic pain suffering patients, also contributing to the legitimacy of FM as a truly painful disease.
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