Structural changes of the brain in rheumatoid arthritis

Karolina Wartolowska, Morgan G. Hough, Mark Jenkinson, Jesper Andersson, B. Paul Wordsworth, Irene Tracey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective To investigate whether structural changes are present in the cortical and subcortical gray matter of the brains of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Methods We used two surface-based style morphometry analysis programs and a voxel-based style analysis program to compare high-resolution structural magnetic resonance imaging data obtained for 31 RA patients and 25 age- and sex-matched healthy control subjects. Results We observed an increase in gray matter content in the basal ganglia of RA patients, mainly in the nucleus accumbens and caudate nucleus. There were no differences in the cortical gray matter. Moreover, patients had a smaller intracranial volume. Conclusion Our results suggest that RA is associated with changes in the subcortical gray matter rather than with cortical gray matter atrophy. Since the basal ganglia play an important role in motor control as well as in pain processing and in modulating behavior in response to aversive stimuli, we suggest that these changes may result from altered motor control or prolonged pain processing. The differences in brain volume may reflect either generalized atrophy or differences in brain development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-379
Number of pages9
JournalArthritis and Rheumatism
Volume64
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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