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Papers of the Week

Papers: 22 Jul 2023 - 28 Jul 2023


Human Studies, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology

Neuropathic Pain

2023 Jul 24

Sci Rep




Intrinsic brain connectivity alterations despite intact pain inhibition in subjects with neuropathic pain after spinal cord injury: a pilot study.


Huynh V, Lütolf R, Rosner J, Luechinger R, Curt A, Kollias S, Michels L, Hubli M


Endogenous pain modulation in humans is frequently investigated with conditioned pain modulation (CPM). Deficient pain inhibition is a proposed mechanism that contributes to neuropathic pain (NP) after spinal cord injury (SCI). Recent studies have combined CPM testing and neuroimaging to reveal neural correlates of CPM efficiency in chronic pain. This study investigated differences in CPM efficiency in relation to resting-state functional connectivity (rsFC) between 12 SCI-NP subjects and 13 age- and sex-matched healthy controls (HC). Twelve and 11 SCI-NP subjects were included in psychophysical and rsFC analyses, respectively. All HC were included in the final analyses. Psychophysical readouts were analysed to determine CPM efficiency within and between cohorts. Group differences of rsFC, in relation to CPM efficiency, were explored with seed-to-voxel rsFC analyses with pain modulatory regions, e.g. ventrolateral periaqueductal gray (vlPAG) and amygdala. Overall, pain inhibition was not deficient in SCI-NP subjects and was greater in those with more intense NP. Greater pain inhibition was associated with weaker rsFC between the vlPAG and amygdala with the visual and frontal cortex, respectively, in SCI-NP subjects but with stronger rsFC in HC. Taken together, SCI-NP subjects present with intact pain inhibition, but can be differentiated from HC by an inverse relationship between CPM efficiency and intrinsic connectivity of supraspinal regions. Future studies with larger cohorts are necessary to consolidate the findings in this study.