The effects of delta wave sleep interruption on pain thresholds & fibromyalgia (FM)-like symptoms in healthy subjects; correlations with insulin-like growth factor I

OBJECTIVE: To assess the effects of delta wave sleep

interruption (DWSI) on pain thresholds and fibromyalgia-like

symptoms. To examine the potential correlations between DWSI

and serum insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1).


Thirteen healthy volunteers were subjected to 3 consecutive

nights of DWSI (Group 1). Pain thresholds were measured by

dolorimetry and symptoms by visual analog scale. Six subjects

not undergoing DWSI served as dolorimetry and symptom controls

(Group 2). Serum IGF-1 was measured by competitive binding

radioimmunoassay before and after DWSI.


significant differences in pain thresholds as a function of

condition (baseline, DWSI, recovery) or overnight change were

detected between or within groups (p>0.05). Morning mean

dolorimeter scores were lower than evening scores in both

groups during all 3 conditions, and were lower in Group 1 than

in Group 2 during DWSI. Group 1 subjects had higher composite

symptom scores during DWSI (p< or =0.005), attributed largely

to increases in fatigue. Serum levels of IGF-1 from Group 1

subjects showed no significant change after DWSI (p>0.05).

CONCLUSION: In our study subjects, 3 nights of DWSI caused no

significant lowering of pain thresholds compared with a

control group. Subjects appeared to have lower pain thresholds

in the mornings, and DWSI appeared to augment this effect.

Symptoms were more apparent during DWSI, but were primarily

related to fatigue. IGF-1 was not altered by 3 nights of DWSI.

The low levels of IGF-1 seen in patients with fibromyalgia

syndrome may result from chronic rather than acute DWSI, or

may be dependent on factors other than disturbances of delta

wave sleep.

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