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Papers of the Week

Papers: 18 Feb 2023 - 24 Feb 2023

Clinical, Psychology

Human Studies, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology


2023 Feb 28

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A




Editor's Pick

Elevated dementia risk, cognitive decline, and hippocampal atrophy in multisite chronic pain.


Zhao W, Zhao L, Chang X, Lu X, Tu Y


Numerous studies have investigated the impacts of common types of chronic pain (CP) on patients’ cognitive function and observed that CP was associated with later dementia. More recently, there is a growing recognition that CP conditions frequently coexist at multiple body sites and may bring more burdens on patients’ overall health. However, whether and how multisite CP (MCP) contributes to an increased risk of dementia, compared to single-site CP (SCP) and pain-free (PF), is largely unclear. In the current study, utilizing the UK Biobank cohort, we first investigated dementia risk in individuals (n = 354,943) with different numbers of coexisting CP sites using Cox proportional hazards regression models. We then applied generalized additive models to investigate whether MCP leads to excessive deterioration of participants’ (n = 19,116) cognition and brain structure. We found that individuals with MCP were associated with significantly higher dementia risk, broader and faster cognitive impairment, and greater hippocampal atrophy than both PF individuals and those with SCP. Moreover, the detrimental effects of MCP on dementia risk and hippocampal volume aggravated along with the number of coexisting CP sites. Mediation analyses further revealed that the decline of fluid intelligence in MCP individuals was partially mediated by hippocampal atrophy. Our results suggested that cognitive decline and hippocampal atrophy interact biologically and may underlie the increased risk of dementia associated with MCP.