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Brain Res. 2011 May 25;1392:121-31. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2011.03.069. Epub 2011 Apr 3.

White matter abnormalities in irritable bowel syndrome and relation to individual factors.

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Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto, Canada.


Patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) have abnormal cortical responses to rectal distension and grey matter thinning in brain areas associated with nociception. These abnormalities may be driven by white matter changes and individual factors. Therefore, we tested the hypothesis that WM subserving the pain system is compromised in IBS, and that disease characteristics and personality contribute to these abnormalities. MRI diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) images were obtained from 10 female IBS patients (20-54 years old, mean±SD 32.8±10.4), and 16 female healthy controls (20-44 years old, mean±SD 29.1±7.9). Mean fractional anisotropy (FA) was extracted from WM regions associated with nociception. The IBS group had higher FA in the fornix and external capsule adjacent to the right posterior insula. IBS chronic pain severity correlated with FA of the bilateral anterior insula and lateral thalamus and left anterior insula FA correlated with pain unpleasantness. IBS duration correlated with FA in the external capsule adjacent to the left posterior insula. Neuroticism correlated with FA in the left medial thalamus in IBS patients only. Pain catastrophizing correlated negatively to cingulum FA in IBS, whereas controls showed correlation between pain catastrophizing and FA of the external capsule adjacent to the left anterior and posterior insula. Thus, fornix and insular white matter is related to IBS symptoms. These data suggest that dysregulation of brain-gut communication via the neuroendocrine pathway or via abnormal visceral sensory and homeostatic input has a role in the pathology of IBS chronic pain.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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