Negative correlation of cortical thickness with the severity and duration of abdominal pain in Asian women with irritable bowel syndrome

Chian Sem Chua, Chyi Huey Bai, Chen Yu Shiao, Chien Yeh Hsu, Chiao Wen Cheng, Kuo Ching Yang, Hung Wen Chiu, Jung Lung Hsu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Background & aims: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) manifests as chronic abdominal pain. One pathophysiological theory states that the brain–gut axis is responsible for pain control in the intestine. Although several studies have discussed the structural changes in the brain of IBS patients, most of these studies have been conducted in Western populations. Different cultures and sexes experience different pain sensations and have different pain responses. Accordingly, we aimed to identify the specific changes in the cortical thickness of Asian women with IBS and to compare these data to those of non-Asian women with IBS. Methods: Thirty Asian female IBS patients (IBS group) and 39 healthy individuals (control group) were included in this study. Brain structural magnetic resonance imaging was performed. We used FreeSurfer to analyze the differences in the cortical thickness and their correlations with patient characteristics. Results: The left cuneus, left rostral middle frontal cortex, left supramarginal cortex, right caudal anterior cingulate cortex, and bilateral insula exhibited cortical thinning in the IBS group compared with those in the controls. Furthermore, the brain cortical thickness correlated negatively the severity as well as duration of abdominal pain. Conclusions: Some of our findings differ from those of Western studies. In our study, all of the significant brain regions in the IBS group exhibited cortical thinning compared with those in the controls. The differences in cortical thickness between the IBS patients and controls may provide useful information to facilitate regulating abdominal pain in IBS patients. These findings offer insights into the association of different cultures and sexes with differences in cortical thinning in patients with IBS.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0183960
JournalPLoS One
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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