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Front Hum Neurosci. 2019 Apr 3;13:107. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2019.00107. eCollection 2019.

Aberrant Brain Function in Active-Stage Ulcerative Colitis Patients: A Resting-State Functional MRI Study.

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Department of Radiology, XinQiao Hosptial, Third Military Medical University, ChongQing, China.
Department of Gastroenterology, XinQiao Hosptial, Third Military Medical University, ChongQing, China.


Background: Patients with ulcerative colitis (UC) usually display cognitive impairments, such as memory loss, attention deficits, and declining executive functions, particularly during the active stage of the disease. However, the potential neurological mechanisms of these symptoms remain unclear. Method: Forty-one patients with mildly to moderately active UC, as well as 42 matched healthy controls, were recruited for an examination using psychological scales, cognitive function tests and resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI). Seed points were identified via analysis of amplitude of low-frequency fluctuation (ALFF), and functional connectivity (FC) was calculated between these seed regions and other voxels in the whole brain. Correlation analyses were performed among clinical indexes, neuropsychological assessments and neuroimaging data. Result: Compared with the healthy controls, patients with UC exhibited lower ALFF values in the bilateral hippocampal/parahippocampal (HIPP/ParaHIPP) region and higher ALFF values in the left posterior cingulate cortex (PCC.L) and left middle frontal gyrus (MFG.L). With HIPP/ParaHIPP as the seed point, the strengths of the FC in the bilateral middle frontal gyri (MFG), anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), and left caudate nucleus (CAU.L) increased; using the PCC.L as the seed point, the strengths of the FC in the middle cingulate cortex (MCC) and the left angular gyrus (AUG.L) increased. These abnormal brain regions were mainly located in the limbic system. By analyzing the correlations between these brain regions and behavioral data, we observed a close correlation between decreased HIPP/ParaHIPP activity and memory loss; increased PCC activity and strength of FC with the AUG.L were related to dysfunction of executive function and attention network in patients with UC. Conclusion: Based on these results, the limbic lobe might be the core of the brain-gut axis (BGA) and play an important role in cognitive impairments, suggesting potential mechanisms for cognitive impairment in patients with UC in the active stage of the disease.


amplitude of low-frequency fluctuation; brain-gut axis; cognition; emotion; functional connectivity; functional magnetic resonance imaging; ulcerative colitis

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