Abstract

The Effects of Gastrointestinal Symptoms on Structural Gray Matter Volume in Youth

Int Nat J Dev Neurosci. 2020 Jun 1.doi: 10.1002/jdn.10044. Online ahead of print.

Atiqa F Pirwani 1, Zhuo Fang 2 3, Bo Li 4 5, Andra Smith 6 3, Georg Northoff 7, Nafissa Ismail 1 2

 
     

Author information

1Neuroimmunology, Stress and Endocrinology (NISE) Lab, School of Psychology, Faculty of Social Science, University of Ottawa, Canada.

2University of Ottawa Brain and Mind Research Institute, Canada.

3Brain Imaging Group (BIG) Lab, School of Psychology, Faculty of Social Science, University of Ottawa, Canada.

4Advanced Research Institute of Multidisciplinary Science, Beijing Institute of Technology, Beijing, 100081, China.

5Beijing Key Laboratory for Separation and Analysis in Biomedicine and Pharmaceuticals, School of Life Science, Beijing Institute of Technology, Beijing, 10081, China.

6Brain Imaging Group (BIG) Lab, Canada.

7University of Ottawa Brain and Mind Research Institute, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Canada, Canada.

Abstract

Previous neuroimaging studies have examined the association between changes in brain structure and gastrointestinal symptoms (GIS), seen in disorders such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Irritable Bowel Disease. Studies in adults have found changes in white and grey matter volume (GMV) in patients with various gastrointestinal disorders. However, it is unclear whether GIS-related structural changes in the brain are limited to adults or could be present throughout the lifespan. Given that gastrointestinal disorders are typically diagnosed between 4-18 years old, we investigated GIS-induced morphological changes in pre-adolescents (8-10), adolescents (12-16 years) and young adults (17-21 years). Using a voxel-based morphometry (VBM) analysis, we compared regional gray matter volume (GMV) between participants with GIS and controls, using structural brain images from the Philadelphia Neurodevelopmental Cohort (PNC) database. A total of 211 participants (107 participants with GISs and 104 control participants) who had undergone structural magnetic resonance imaging were analyzed. VBM analysis was used to objectively analyze GMV across the whole brain and compare between participants with GIS and controls. Participants experiencing GIS showed smaller GMV in regions within the limbic system/basal ganglia (bilateral caudate, bilateral ventral hippocampus, bilateral amygdala, and bilateral superior orbital frontal cortex), and larger GMV in regions within the pain matrix (thalamus, bilateral putamen, right mid-frontal gyrus) compared to controls. These differences were most prominent in the adolescent and young adult groups compared to pre-adolescents. In conclusion, the structural differences found in participants with GIS support the need for further research into the neurophysiological impact of these symptoms.

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