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Research

Neural alterations in regions involved in cognitive and affective functions among Crohn’s disease patients


Evidence suggests that the disease may affect the mental state by altering the motor, sensory systems causing psychological stress.

Crohn’s disease (CD), one of the main phenotypes of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), may affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract1, secretory gastrointestinal function and the immune system as well as increasing the intestinal permeability2. There is also evidence suggesting that the disease may affect the mental state by altering the motor, sensory systems causing psychological stress, precipitating mood disorders, and causing difficulties with concentration and thinking3.

Compared to age-matched healthy controls, CD patients show brain changes in terms of altered cortical thickness in the bilateral superior and middle frontal gyri, areas (responsible for cognitive control and responding to behaviorally salient events), and the bilateral temporal poles and insular gyri, areas (involved in socio-emotional processing).

These morphological changes may be the result of a confluence of factors such as the prolonged exposure to systemic inflammation, pain that may drive changes in the excitatory (e.g., NMDA-ergic) or inhibitory (e.g., GABA-ergic) systems as well as responses to various medications4, and could promote CD patients with a heightened sensitivity to their external environment and an inadequate ability to modulate their cognitive and emotional states4,5,6.

Additionally, CD patients demonstrate decreased sub-cortical volumes, including the bilateral pallidum and right putamen which are associated with altered emotional and pain perception4. These volume changes suggest there is a neural basis to the alterations in CD patients’ cognitive and affective responses.

Read full study at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-43878-0

Posted on: May 27 2019

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