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Papers of the Week

Papers: 15 Oct 2022 - 21 Oct 2022


PLoS One



Altered brain responses to noxious dentoalveolar stimuli in high-impact temporomandibular disorder pain patients.


Peck CM, Bereiter DA, Eberly LE, Lenglet C, Moana-Filho EJ
PLoS One. 2022; 17(10):e0266349.
PMID: 36240243.


High-impact temporomandibular disorder (TMD) pain may involve brain mechanisms related to maladaptive central pain modulation. We investigated brain responses to stimulation of trigeminal sites not typically associated with TMD pain by applying noxious dentoalveolar pressure to high- and low-impact TMD pain cases and pain-free controls during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Fifty female participants were recruited and assigned to one of three groups based on the Diagnostic Criteria for Temporomandibular Disorders (DC/TMD) and Graded Chronic Pain Scale: controls (n = 17), low-impact (n = 17) and high-impact TMD (n = 16). Multimodal whole-brain MRI was acquired following the Human Connectome Project Lifespan protocol, including stimulus-evoked fMRI scans during which painful dentoalveolar pressure was applied to the buccal gingiva of participants. Group analyses were performed using non-parametric permutation tests for parcellated cortical and subcortical neuroimaging data. There were no significant between-group differences for brain activations/deactivations evoked by the noxious dentoalveolar pressure. For individual group mean activations/deactivations, a gradient in the number of parcels surviving thresholding was found according to the TMD pain grade, with the highest number seen in the high-impact group. Among the brain regions activated in chronic TMD pain groups were those previously implicated in sensory-discriminative and motivational-affective pain processing. These results suggest that dentoalveolar pressure pain evokes abnormal brain responses to sensory processing of noxious stimuli in high-impact TMD pain participants, which supports the presence of maladaptive brain plasticity in chronic TMD pain.