Document Type



Background: Pain is a common occurrence and persistent symptom, which has an adverse impact on individual well-being and quality of life among people living with HIV (PLHIV). Alteration in the activity of the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis resulting in abnormal glucocorticoid levels had been proposed to play important roles in those associations. Purpose: This study aimed to investigate whether pain severity was associated with hair glucocorticoid levels, a novel method of measuring long-term glucocorticoid exposure, among a large cohort of Chinese PLHIV. Methods: A measure of pain severity and hair samples were collected from 431 adults PLHIV in Guangxi, China. Glucocorticoid (cortisol and cortisone) in hair were quantified by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. The general linear model was used to test the associations of pain severity with hair glucocorticoid levels after adjusting for potential confounding factors. Results: Of the 431 PLHIV, 273 reported none pain, 87 reported mild pain, and 71 reported moderate-severe pain. Hair cortisone, but not hair cortisol, was found to differ significantly among the three pain severity groups (F=3.90, p=0.021). PLHIV reported moderate-severe pain had higher hair cortisone than those reported mild (p=0.070) or none pain (p=0.014), with no differences between the latter two pain severity groups. Conclusion: Greater pain severity is associated with higher hair cortisone levels among Chinese PLHIV. In order to reduce the long-term glucocorticoid levels, interventions managing pain should be considered for PLHIV with moderate-severe pain.

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APA Citation

Zhang, Q., Li, X., Qiao, S., Liu, S., Shen, Z., & Zhou, Y. (2021). Greater Pain Severity is Associated with Higher Glucocorticoid Levels in Hair Among a Cohort of People Living with HIV. Journal Of Pain Research, 2021, 645-652.