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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Hum. Neurosci. | doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2019.00333

Correlation between thalamus-related functional connectivity and serum BDNF levels during the periovulatory phase of primary dysmenorrhea

Fang Han1,  Hongjuan Liu2,  Ke Wang2, Jing Yang2, Ling Yang3, Jixin Liu4, Ming Zhang2* and  Wanghuan Dun2*
  • 1Affiliated Zhongshan Hospital of Dalian University, China
  • 2First Affiliated Hospital of Xi'an Jiaotong University, China
  • 3Chongqing Medical University, China
  • 4School of Life Science and Technology, Xidian University, China

The thalamus is a key region for the transmission of nociceptive information in the central modulation of pain and has been studied in the setting of numerous chronic pain conditions. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is considered an important modulator for mediating nociceptive pathways in chronic pain. The present study aimed to investigate whether there was thalamus-related abnormal functional connectivity (FC) or relevant serum BDNF level alterations during periovulation in long-term primary dysmenorrhea (PDM), a kind of chronic visceral pain. Functional connectivity analyses were performed using 3-dimensional T1-weighted and resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in 36 patients in the periovulatory phase and 29 age-, education-, and gender-matched healthy controls. Serum BDNF levels were evaluated by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and a significantly higher BDNF level was detected in PDM patients. Regions of abnormal thalamus-related FC of pain perception included the primary sensory cortex (SI), bilateral dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, hippocampus and periaqueductal gray (PAG) in PDM patients. Further analysis revealed significant positive correlations between serum BDNF levels and thalamus-related FC in regions associated with pain perception including the orbitofrontal cortex, SI and SII areas, and inferior parietal area. Our results suggest greater dysfunction in thalamus-related FC in PDM (even in the absence of ongoing menstrual pain) that is likely correlated with underlying modulative effects of abnormal serum BDNF levels. Such alterations partly account for hyperalgesia in women with PDM. In addition, our study advances methods of cerebral functional investigation.

Keywords: Primary dysmenoreha, Chronic Pain, Thalamus, Neuroimaging, mentrual pain

Received: 27 Feb 2019; Accepted: 09 Sep 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Han, Liu, Wang, Yang, Yang, Liu, Zhang and Dun. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence:
PhD. Ming Zhang, First Affiliated Hospital of Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, 710061, Shaanxi, China, zmmri@163.com
PhD. Wanghuan Dun, First Affiliated Hospital of Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, 710061, Shaanxi, China, wanghuandun@163.com