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J Pain. 2009 Jan;10(1):47-52. doi: 10.1016/j.jpain.2008.07.003. Epub 2008 Sep 4.

Hippocampal metabolite abnormalities in fibromyalgia: correlation with clinical features.

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Department of Family Medicine, LSU Health Sciences Center, Shreveport, Louisiana, USA.


Although the pathology of fibromyalgia is poorly understood, a growing body of evidence suggests involvement of the central nervous system. The hippocampus is a brain center that is sensitive to the effects of stress exposure and has been demonstrated to be affected in a variety of disorders whose onset, like fibromyalgia, are associated with stressful experience. We therefore interrogated the bilateral hippocampus of 16 female fibromyalgia patients in comparison to 8 age- and gender-matched healthy control subjects using single voxel proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Our results demonstrate a significant reduction in the ratio of N-acetylaspartate to creatine (NAA/Cr) in fibromyalgia patients versus matched control subjects specifically in the right temporal lobe from a voxel centered on the right hippocampus (patient vs control, mean +/- standard deviation: 1.20 +/- 0.13 vs 1.34 +/- 0.10, P = .03). Moreover, correlation analysis demonstrated a significant negative correlation between patient scores on the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire and NAA/Cr ratio within the right hippocampus (Spearman rank correlation, rho = -0.681, P = .018). Our results indicate that fibromyalgia is associated with brain metabolite abnormalities within the right hippocampus that correlate with patient symptoms.


We have demonstrated an abnormality in hippocampal brain metabolites in premenopausal female fibromyalgia patients with no psychiatric comorbidity. A significant negative correlation between patient subjective experience of symptoms and a reduced NAA/Cr ratio suggests a role for hippocampal pathology in fibromyalgia.

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