Serotonin levels, pain threshold, & fibromyalgia (FM) symptoms in the general population

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the association of serum serotonin

with fibromyalgia (FM), and to study the relationship of

serotonin to clinical variables associated with FM.


Serum samples (n = 292) were obtained on subjects without

pain, with regional pain, and with widespread pain during a

population survey. The tender point examination was made

according to American College of Rheumatology examination

criteria by an examiner blind to the subjects’ complaints.

Serotonin was determined by high performance liquid

chromatography coupled to an electrochemical detector.

RESULTS: No associations between clinical variables and

serotonin levels were found in the group as a whole. Subjects

with FM had lower serotonin levels unadjusted (p = 0.019) and

adjusted for age and sex (p = 0.059) than those without FM.

Within the FM group, associations between serotonin and

tender point count (r = 0.563) and depression (r = 0.549)

were noted, but the direction of association was opposite to

previous reports and expectations.


serotonin levels are significantly lower in persons with FM

compared to those without FM, but the range of values is

wide. Difficult to explain correlations with reversed

directions are noted for tender point count, dolorimetry,

depression, and anxiety among those with FM. Serotonin is not

correlated with any clinical variables in the general

population, and separate pain groups cannot be distinguished.

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