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Papers of the Week

Papers: 30 Jan 2021 - 5 Feb 2021

Human Studies

2021 Jan 30

J Pain

Grey matter brain alterations in temporomandibular disorder tested in a population cohort and three clinical samples.


Domin M, Grimm N, Klepzig K, Schmidt CO, Kordass B, Lotze M
J Pain. 2021 Jan 30.
PMID: 33529707.


Temporomandibular pain (TMD) is a frequent symptom comprising pain around the mandibular jaw with a high dependence on stressors. Chronic pain has been associated with changes of the brains grey matter volume (GMV), but previous studies on GMV alterations associated with TMD have yielded contradictory results. This might be caused by divergent samples and study methods. We here tested GMV alterations using voxel based morphometry in three clinical samples (summing up to 47 TMD patients) and a population sample with 57 participants who indicated facial pain for the last 6 months. The GMV of pain patients was compared against age-matched and gender-matched participants without chronic pain (60 for the clinical sample comparison and 381 for the cohort sample comparison) who underwent the same assessments as the patient group (MRI measurements and data evaluation using CAT12). In a region of interest analysis, only the clinical samples showed an effect of decreased GMV in the anterior medial cingulate cortex reaching into the medial prefrontal cortex, known to be especially vulnerable for chronic pain grey matter volume reduction. The analysis of the population-based sample did not reveal relevant GMV differences. Overall, an important question remains as to whether most inconsistent results from VBM-studies in chronic pain are related to chance results facilitated by small sample size and selection of patient samples.