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PLoS One. 2009;4(2):e4542. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0004542. Epub 2009 Feb 20.

Altered resting state in diabetic neuropathic pain.

Author information

  • 1CCS fMRI, Koelliker Hospital, Turin, Italy. franco.cauda@unito.it



The spontaneous component of neuropathic pain (NP) has not been explored sufficiently with neuroimaging techniques, given the difficulty to coax out the brain components that sustain background ongoing pain. Here, we address for the first time the correlates of this component in an fMRI study of a group of eight patients suffering from diabetic neuropathic pain and eight healthy control subjects. Specifically, we studied the functional connectivity that is associated with spontaneous neuropathic pain with spatial independent component analysis (sICA).


Functional connectivity analyses revealed a cortical network consisting of two anti-correlated patterns: one includes the left fusiform gyrus, the left lingual gyrus, the left inferior temporal gyrus, the right inferior occipital gyrus, the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex bilaterally, the pre and postcentral gyrus bilaterally, in which its activity is correlated negatively with pain and positively with the controls; the other includes the left precuneus, dorsolateral prefrontal, frontopolar cortex (both bilaterally), right superior frontal gyrus, left inferior frontal gyrus, thalami, both insulae, inferior parietal lobuli, right mammillary body, and a small area in the left brainstem, in which its activity is correlated positively with pain and negatively with the controls. Furthermore, a power spectra analyses revealed group differences in the frequency bands wherein the sICA signal was decomposed: patients' spectra are shifted towards higher frequencies.


In conclusion, we have characterized here for the first time a functional network of brain areas that mark the spontaneous component of NP. Pain is the result of aberrant default mode functional connectivity.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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