Background In several studies an effect of whole-body cryotherapy (WBCT) on pain relief and reduction of inflammatory symptoms has been demonstrated and it is recommended for the treatment of arthritis, fibromyalgia and ankylosing spondylitis. The mode of action of this therapy, which consists in a brief exposure to temperatures between -110 and -160°C in special cryochambers, has not been fully elucidated.
Objectives The aim of this study was to investigate the changes in the gene expression pattern in cells from peripheral blood of patients with fibromyalgia going through a series of three exposures to WBCT within three days.
Methods Ten patients with fibromyalgia (9 female/1 male, mean age 48.7 (9.8) years) were included in the study and underwent 3 exposures to WBCT in a cryochamber system with 3 chambers (10 seconds at -10°C, 10 seconds at -60°C and for maximum 3 minutes at -110°C) at 3 consecutive days. The mean pain intensity (VAS in mm) before start of WBCT treatment was 61. Blood was collected immediately prior to (baseline) and directly after the first exposure to WBCT and after the third exposure using PAXgene™ RNA tubes. Total RNA was extracted with the PAXgene Blood RNA kit, no globin reduction protocol was applicated. Transcriptome analysis was performed using Affymetrix GeneChip(®) Human Gene 1.0 ST arrays. Data were analysed using the Partek Genomic Suite 6.6 Software.
Results All 10 patients tolerated the application of the WBCT well and reported to benefit from this treatment. The mean pain intensity (VAS in mm) reduced from 61 at baseline to 36 directly after the third treatment in the cryochamber.
Repeated exposure to WBCT caused statistically significant (p<0.05) greater than 1.2 fold up-regulation and <-1.2 fold down-regulation in expression (relative to baseline) of 90 out of 33,297 sequences.(72 down-regulated, 18 up-regulated). 34 of these transcripts were found significantly changed already early after a single exposure to WBCT.
The majority of down-regulated transcripts belongs to the group of small nucleolar RNA (SNORD). An up-regulation was found amongst others for transcripts for PBX1, SFRP2, MAP2K3, and SLC25A39.
Conclusions We observed significant changes in gene expression early in peripheral blood cells of fibromyalgia patients undergoing a WBCT. Small nucleolar RNAs represent the group with highest number of gene products that appear to be regulated by brief exposures to very cold temperatures. These molecules belong to so-called non-coding RNAs, which are considered as internal signals that control various levels of gene expression in physiology and development and are discussed as regulators of disease.
Disclosure of Interest None Declared