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Papers of the Week

Papers: 17 Jun 2023 - 23 Jun 2023

Clinical, Pediatric

Human Studies, Neurobiology, Neuroimaging

Abdominal/Pelvic Pain, Inflammation/Inflammatory, Psychological/Comorbidities

2023 Jun 16



Augmented pain-evoked primary sensorimotor cortex activation in adolescent girls with juvenile fibromyalgia.


Tong H, Maloney TC, Payne MF, Suñol M, Dudley JA, King CD, Ting TV, Kashikar-Zuck S, Coghill RC, López-Solà M


Juvenile fibromyalgia (JFM) is a chronic widespread pain condition that primarily affects adolescent girls. Previous studies have found increased sensitivity to noxious pressure in adolescents with JFM. However, the underlying changes in brain systems remain unclear. The aim of this study was to characterize pain-evoked brain responses and identify brain mediators of pain hypersensitivity in adolescent girls with JFM. Thirty-three adolescent girls with JFM and 33 healthy adolescent girls underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging scans involving noxious pressure applied to the left thumbnail at an intensity of 2.5 or 4 kg/cm2 and rated pain intensity and unpleasantness on a computerized Visual Analogue Scale. We conducted standard general linear model analyses and exploratory whole-brain mediation analyses. The JFM group reported significantly greater pain intensity and unpleasantness than the control group in response to noxious pressure stimuli at both intensities (P < 0.05). The JFM group showed augmented right primary somatosensory cortex (S1) activation to 4 kg/cm2 (Z > 3.1, cluster-corrected P < 0.05), and the peak S1 activation magnitudes significantly correlated with the scores on the Widespread Pain Index (r = 0.35, P = 0.048) with higher activation associated with more widespread pain. We also found that greater primary sensorimotor cortex activation in response to 4 kg/cm2 mediated the between-group differences in pain intensity ratings (P < 0.001). In conclusion, we found heightened sensitivity to noxious pressure stimuli and augmented pain-evoked sensorimotor cortex responses in adolescent girls with JFM, which could reflect central sensitization or amplified nociceptive input.