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Papers of the Week

Papers: 23 Mar 2024 - 29 Mar 2024

2024 Mar 27

Sci Rep




Brain network hypersensitivity underlies pain crises in sickle cell disease.


Joo P, Kim M, Kish B, Nair VV, Tong Y, Liu Z, O'Brien ARW, Harte SE, Harris RE, Lee U, Wang Y


Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a genetic disorder causing painful and unpredictable Vaso-occlusive crises (VOCs) through blood vessel blockages. In this study, we propose explosive synchronization (ES) as a novel approach to comprehend the hypersensitivity and occurrence of VOCs in the SCD brain network. We hypothesized that the accumulated disruptions in the brain network induced by SCD might lead to strengthened ES and hypersensitivity. We explored ES’s relationship with patient reported outcome measures (PROMs) as well as VOCs by analyzing EEG data from 25 SCD patients and 18 matched controls. SCD patients exhibited lower alpha frequency than controls. SCD patients showed correlation between frequency disassortativity (FDA), an ES condition, and three important PROMs. Furthermore, stronger FDA was observed in SCD patients with a higher frequency of VOCs and EEG recording near VOC. We also conducted computational modeling on SCD brain network to study FDA’s role in network sensitivity. Our model demonstrated that a stronger FDA could be linked to increased sensitivity and frequency of VOCs. This study establishes connections between SCD pain and the universal network mechanism, ES, offering a strong theoretical foundation. This understanding will aid predicting VOCs and refining pain management for SCD patients.