Background and Aims
Brain dysfunction in functional dyspepsia (FD) has been identified by multiple neuroimaging studies. This study aims to investigate the regional gray matter density (GMD) changes in meal-related FD patients and their correlations with clinical variables, and to explore the possible influence of the emotional state on FD patients’s brain structures.
Fifty meal-related FD patients and forty healthy subjects (HS) were included and underwent a structural magnetic resonance imaging scan. Voxel-based morphometry analysis was employed to identify the cerebral structure alterations in meal-related FD patients. Regional GMD changes' correlations with the symptoms and their durations, respectively, have been analyzed.
Compared to the HS, the meal-related FD patients showed a decreased GMD in the bilateral precentral gyrus, medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC), anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and midcingulate cortex (MCC), left orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and right insula (p<0.05, FWE Corrected, Cluster size>50). After controlling for anxiety and depression, the meal-related FD patients showed a decreased GMD in the bilateral middle frontal gyrus, left MCC, right precentral gyrus and insula (p<0.05, FWE Corrected, Cluster size>50). Before controlling psychological factors, the GMD decreases in the ACC were negatively associated with the symptom scores of the Nepean Dyspepsia Index (NDI) (r = −0.354, p = 0.048, Bonferroni correction) and the duration of FD (r = −0.398, p = 0.02, Bonferroni correction) respectively.
The regional GMD of meal-related FD patients, especially in the regions of the homeostatic afferent processing network significantly differed from that of the HS, and the psychological factors might be one of the essential factors significantly affecting the regional brain structure of meal-related FD patients.