Aims: To systematically review the literature to assess whether genetic polymorphisms affect orofacial pain sensitivity in healthy individuals and in patients with chronic orofacial pain disorders. Methods: Electronic searches were conducted to identify observational studies and clinical trials investigating the association between genetic polymorphisms and orofacial pain sensitivity in healthy individuals and/or patients with chronic orofacial pain disorders. Searches were carried out in PubMed, Embase, and Scopus databases using Medical Subject Headings and free terms.
Keywords: chronic pain, genetic polymorphism, orofacial region, pain sensitivity, quantitative sensory testing
Results: Seven studies fulfilled the eligibility criteria: four analyzed healthy subjects, two included chronic orofacial pain patients, and one included samples of healthy subjects and patients with neuropathic pain. The results showed that genes associated with mechanical and thermal pain sensitivity were mostly related to opioid, catecholaminergic, inflammatory, and dopaminergic pathways.
Conclusion: Genetic polymorphisms related to opioid, catecholaminergic, inflammatory, and dopaminergic pathways were associated with sensitivity to thermal and pressure stimuli in the orofacial region. Therefore, genetic factors should be taken into account for an accurate interpretation of orofacial pain sensitivity. These results will allow for a better understanding of the etiopathogenesis of chronic pain affecting the orofacial region, and consequently for finding new therapeutic targets.