Eduardo Moreira Pinto, João Rocha Neves, Manuel Laranjeira, Joaquim Reis

September 2023, Volume 32, Issue 9, pp 3230 - 3244 Review Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-023-07717-1

First Online: 17 May 2023


The purpose of this study was to systematically review the evidence on inflammatory biomarkers as analytic predictors of non-specific low back pain (NsLBP).

Summary of background data

Low back pain (LBP) is the number one cause of disability globally, posing a major health problem that causes an enormous social and economic burden, and there is an increasing interest on the importance of biomarkers in quantifying and even emerge as potential therapeutic tools to LBP.


A systematic search was conducted on July 2022 in Cochrane Library, MEDLINE and Web of Science for all the available literature. Cross-sectional, longitudinal cohort or case–control studies that evaluated the relationship between inflammatory biomarkers collected from blood samples and low back pain in humans were considered eligible for inclusion, as well as prospective and retrospective studies.


The systematic database search resulted in a total of 4016 records, of which 15 articles were included for synthesis. Sample size comprised a total of 14,555 patients with LBP (acute LBP (n = 2073); chronic LBP (n = 12482)) and 494 controls. Most studies found a positive correlation between classic pro-inflammatory biomarkers and NsLBP, namely C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin 1 (IL-1) and IL-1β, interleukin 6 (IL-6) and tumour necrosis factor α (TNF-α). On the other hand, anti-inflammatory biomarker interleukin 10 (IL-10) demonstrated a negative association with NsLBP. Four studies have made direct comparisons between ALBP and CLBP groups regarding their inflammatory biomarkers profile.


This systematic review found evidence of increased levels of pro-inflammatory biomarkers CRP, IL-6 and TNF-α and decreased levels of anti-inflammatory biomarker IL-10 in patients with LBP. Hs-CRP was not correlated with LBP. There is insufficient evidence to associate these findings with the degree of pain severity or the activity status of the lumbar pain over time.

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