Abnormal Brain Function Seen in Women With Primary Dysmenorrhea

By Reuters Staff

August 27, 2021

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Researchers in China have observed brain alterations in women with primary dysmenorrhea (PDM) and identified a potential treatment target.

PDM is a common disorder characterized by cramping pain in the lower abdomen occurring just before or during menstruation, in the absence of other diseases such as endometriosis.

Recent neuroimaging studies suggest abnormal brain function in PDM.

To investigate further, Dr. Jie Yang of Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and colleagues used resting-state functional MRI to examine frequency-specific brain function alterations in 47 women (mean age, 23 years) with PDM and 36 matched healthy controls.

The results revealed abnormal brain functional connectivity density (FCD) in women with PDM, especially in the central executive, default mode, sensorimotor networks, and the hippocampus.

Altered full low-frequency FCD in the hippocampus was associated with the duration of disease and pain-severity scores, while altered Slow5 FCD in the second somatosensory area (S2) was associated with pain severity in PDM.

The FCD in S2 mediated the duration associated with pain symptoms in PDM, suggesting that the S2 area is a potential treatment target for PDM, the researchers say.

They note that S2 is involved in the emotional and content dimension of pain perception; increased FCD in S2 could indicate an abnormal encoding of pain perception and pain-related processing of emotion.

"These results are consistent with the hypothesis of frequency-specific brain functional abnormalities in patients with PDM," the researchers conclude in their paper in Pain Medicine.

Dr. Yang did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

The study had no commercial funding and the authors have declared no relevant conflicts of interest.

SOURCE: https://bit.ly/3xI4Up3 Pain Medicine, online July 26, 2021.