Research Papers:

Differences in brain gray matter volume in patients with Crohn’s disease with and without abdominal pain

Chunhui Bao, Peng Liu, Yin Shi, Luyi Wu, Xiaoming Jin, Xiaoqing Zeng, Jianye Zhang, Di Wang, Huirong Liu and Huangan Wu _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:93624-93632. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.21161

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Chunhui Bao1,*, Peng Liu2,*, Yin Shi3, Luyi Wu1, Xiaoming Jin4, Xiaoqing Zeng5, Jianye Zhang6, Di Wang1, Huirong Liu3 and Huangan Wu1

1Key Laboratory of Acupuncture and Immunological Effects, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai, China

2Life Sciences Research Center, School of Life Sciences and Technology, Xidian University, Xi’an, China

3Outpatient Department, Shanghai Research Institute of Acupuncture and Meridian, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai, China

4Stark Neurosciences Research Institute, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

5Department of Gastroenterology, Zhongshan Hospital, Fudan University, Shanghai, China

6Department of Radiology, Shanghai Mental Health Center, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Huangan Wu, email: [email protected]

Huirong Liu, email: [email protected]

Keywords: magnetic resonance imaging, Crohn’s disease, gray matter, brain, pain

Received: June 16, 2017     Accepted: September 08, 2017     Published: September 22, 2017


Increasing evidence indicates that abnormal pain processing is present in the central nervous system of patients with Crohn’s disease (CD). The purposes of this study were to assess changes in gray matter (GM) volumes in CD patients in remission and to correlate structural changes in the brain with abdominal pain. We used a 3.0 T magnetic resonance scanner to examine the GM structures in 21 CD patients with abdominal pain, 26 CD patients without abdominal pain, and 30 healthy control subjects (HCs). Voxel-based morphometric analyses were used to assess the brain GM volumes. Patients with abdominal pain exhibited higher CD activity index and lower inflammatory bowel disease questionnaire scores than those of the patients without abdominal pain. Compare to HCs and to patients without abdominal pain, patients with abdominal pain exhibited lower GM volumes in the insula and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC); whereas compare to HCs and to patients with abdominal pain, the patients without abdominal pain exhibited higher GM volumes in the hippocampal and parahippocampal cortex. The GM volumes in the insula and ACC were significantly negatively correlated with daily pain scores. These results suggest that differences exist in the brain GM volume between CD patients in remission with and without abdominal pain. The negative correlation between the GM volumes in the insula and ACC and the presence and severity of abdominal pain in CD suggests these structures are closely related to visceral pain processing.

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