Original Paper

Are Inflammatory Cytokines Associated with Pain during Acute Myocardial Infarction

Imholz L.a · Meister-Langraf R.E.a,e,f · Princip M.a,c,e · Fux M.d · Schnyder U.g · Barth J.h · Znoj H.b ·Schmid J.-P.i · von Känel R.a,e,j

Keywords: Acute myocardial infarctionCardiovascular diseasePainCytokinesInflammationPosttraumatic stressPsychological stress



Objective: Pain and inflammation during acute myocardial infarction (AMI) have been associated with the development of posttraumatic stress disorder and may also impact negatively on somatic outcome. We investigated the relationship between pain during AMI and levels of circulating proinflammatory (tumor necrosis factor [TNF]-α, interleukin [IL]-6) and anti-inflammatory (IL-33 and tissue growth factor [TGF]-β1) cytokines. Methods: Data were collected as part of the Myocardial Infarction - Stress Prevention Intervention (MI-SPRINT) study. We included 140 patients (mean age 59.6 years, 82.1% male) with high acute psychological distress within 48 h after MI. Fasting blood samples were drawn thereafter to measure cytokine levels. Sociodemographic factors, psychological and medical data, as well as cardiometabolic markers were assessed with questionnaires and patient interviews. Results: Linear regression models showed a significant positive correlation of pain with TGF-β1 (b = 770.91, p = 0.031) and a significant inverse correlation of pain with IL-33 (b = -0.11, p = 0.015) after controlling for age, gender, body mass index, lifetime depression, acute stress disorder symptoms, and the prognostic Global Registry of Acute Coronary Events (GRACE) score. Pain was not associated with IL-6 but with the GRACE score (b = 0.01, p = 0.003). Pain showed no significant association with TNF-α. Conclusion: Pain during MI was associated with anti- but not proinflammatory cytokines. As IL-33 has been shown to be cardioprotective, lower IL-33 levels with more intense pain may suggest a pathway through which increased pain during MI may have an impact on the medical prognosis.