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Brain Dev. 2013 May;35(5):427-34. doi: 10.1016/j.braindev.2012.07.013. Epub 2012 Aug 23.

Regional cerebral blood flow and abnormal eating behavior in Prader-Willi syndrome.

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Department of Behavioral Neurology and Cognitive Neuroscience, Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine, Sendai, Japan.



Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) is a genetically determined neurodevelopmental disorder and is generally regarded as a genetic model of obesity. Individuals with PWS exhibit behavioral symptoms including temper tantrums, rigid thinking, and compulsive behavior. The most striking feature of PWS is abnormal eating behavior, including hyperphagia, intense preoccupation with food, and incessant food seeking. To explore brain regions associated with the behavioral symptoms of PWS, we investigated differences in resting-state regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) between individuals with PWS and healthy controls. Correlation analyses were also performed to examine the relationship between rCBF and altered eating behavior in PWS individuals.


Twelve adults with PWS and 13 age- and gender-matched controls underwent resting-state single photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT) with N-isopropyl-p-[(123)I] iodoamphetamine (IMP). The rCBF data were analyzed on a voxel-by-voxel basis using SPM5 software.


The results demonstrated that compared with controls, individuals with PWS had significantly lower rCBF in the right thalamus, left insular cortex, bilateral lingual gyrus, and bilateral cerebellum. They had significantly higher rCBF in the right inferior frontal gyrus, left middle/inferior frontal gyrus (anterior and posterior clusters), and bilateral angular gyrus. Additionally, rCBF in the left insula, which was significantly lower in PWS individuals, was negatively correlated with the eating behavior severity score.


These results suggest that specific brain regions, particularly the left insula, may be partly responsible for the behavioral symptoms in PWS.

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