J Pain. 2021 Oct
In a previous study, we demonstrated that the serum peptidase system might be less efficient in complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). Since the neuropeptide substanc P (SP) contributes to inflammation in CRPS, we now investigated the metabolism of SP in CRPS specifically. An SP metabolism assay was performed in 24 CRPS patients, which constitute a subgroup of our previous investigation on BK degradation. In addition, we included 26 healthy controls (24 newly recruited plus 2 from our previous investigation), and 13 patients after limb trauma, who did not fulfil the CRPS diagnostic criteria (trauma controls, TC) were included. We adapted a thin layer chromatography assay (TLC) to quantify SP disappearance after incubation with 7.5 µl of serum. These results were compared with bradykinin (BK) metabolization to BK1-8 and BK1-5 fragments from our previous study. In addition, TC were clinically and quantitative sensory testing (QST) phenotyped; the phenotyping of CRPS patients was retrieved from our existing database. SP metabolism was less efficient in CRPS and TC patient serum vs human control (HC) serum (p<0.03) suggesting reduced acitivity of the neutral endopeptidase (NEP) and/or the angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE). Together with the decreased occurrence of BK1-5 fragment in CRPS and TC, this suggests a reduced activation of the angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE). There was no clear clinical phenotype related to impaired SP degradation; duration of disease and gender were also not associated. Most importantly, results in TC did not differ from CRPS. Collectively, our current and previous experimental results suggest that limb trauma reduces serum peptidase metabolism of SP ex vivo, specifically serum ACE activity. However, this finding is not CRPS-specific and seems to be rather a long-term consequence of the trauma itself.