Opioid use for treatment of persistent pain has increased dramatically over the past two decades, but it has not resulted in improved pain management outcomes. To understand the molecular mechanisms of opioids, molecular signatures that arise from opioid exposure are often sought after, using various analytical methods. In this study, we performed proteomics, and multiglycomics via sequential analysis of polysialic acids, glycosaminoglycans, N-glycans and O-glycans, using the same cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) sample from patients that had long-term (>2 years), intrathecal morphine or baclofen administered via an indwelling pump. Proteomics and N-glycomics signatures between the two treatment groups were highly conserved, while significant differences were observed in polysialic acid, heparan sulfate glycosaminoglycan and O-glycan profiles between the two treatment groups. This represents the first study to investigate the potential relationships between diverse CSF conjugated glycans and long-term intrathecal drug exposure. The unique changes, observed by a sequential analytical workflow, reflect previously undescribed molecular effects of opioid administration and pain management.
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