The objective of Epigen BAP proposal is to understand the causative mechanisms of fibromyalgia while considering the interplay between environmental influences, central pain mechanisms, and genetic and epigenetic factors.

Study 1

This will be performed through a multi-centric study, involving the recruitment of patients with FM and control participants (healthy, patients with major depressive disorder, and patients with sleep disorders).

The procedure will include

  • A comprehensive assessment of the physical and psychological status of the participants, as well as of their life experiences
  • A standardized protocol to assess central pain modulation by quantitative sensory testing (QST) and electroencephalography (EEG)
  • A blood sample extraction.

Epigenetic analyses will provide knowledge about how pain-related genes and environment interact and will shed light on the etiological mechanisms underlying FM.

A GWAS (Genome-Wide Association Studies) will contribute to clarify whether there are common genetic variants in FM susceptibility.

Also, the study of gene-to-gene interactions, and their association with central pain mechanisms and FM symptoms and comorbidities, will contribute to understanding the role of genes affecting serotonergic and opioid signaling on deficient central pain modulation.

We will obtain normative data on QST parameters and will apply novel EEG analyses techniques to clarify connectivity between regions.

The pooled analyses will contribute to identifying biomarkers useful to profile the patients, to improve the diagnostic procedure, and to predict treatment efficacy.

Study 2

In a second phase, we will analyze the usefulness of patients’ profiles to predict the effectiveness of a novel, home-based transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) intervention.

We will develop and adapt a tDCS device for an at-home treatment for patients with FM, perform a pilot study (80% active vs. 20% sham tDCS stimulation at M1), and analyze the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of this intervention.

EpiGenBaP Project will contribute to improving the knowledge on the causative mechanisms and pathophysiology of fibromyalgia, providing biomarkers to improve the diagnosis of this disease, and making tailored and patient-centered treatment a reality.

To pursue those ambitious objectives we have formed an alliance of 10 research institutions from 10 different countries (8 in Europe, 1 in Asia and 2 in America) and 2 SMEs, with a proven track record in genetics, neuroscience and pain research. The consortium involves several leading research groups with an international reputation in the study of FM and its physiopathology mechanisms.

In accordance with the holistic approach we advocate to understand and treating FM, EpiGenBaP involves professionals from the fields of psychology, genetics, neuroscience, medicine, economics, engineering, education, and demography, among others. In addition, given that FM is more frequent in women, gender analysis is a priority in EpiGenBaP (see Consortium).