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Reduced Volume of Hippocampus May Be Related to Cognitive Problems in Fibromyalgia

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Fibromyalgia patients have reduced hippocampal volume compared with healthy controls.


OBJECTIVE: Fibromyalgia patients frequently report cognitive abnormalities. As the hippocampus plays an important role in learning and memory, we determined whether individuals with fibromyalgia had smaller hippocampal volume compared with healthy control participants.

METHODS: T1-weighted structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans were acquired from 40 female participants with fibromyalgia and 22 female healthy controls. The volume of the hippocampus was estimated using the software FreeSurfer. An analysis of covariance model controlling for potentially confounding factors of age, whole brain size, MRI signal quality, and Beck Depression Inventory scores were used to determine significant group differences.

RESULTS: Fibromyalgia participants had significantly smaller hippocampi in both left (F[1,56]=4.55, P=0.037, η (2) p=0.08) and right hemispheres (F[1,56]=5.89, P=0.019, η (2) p=0.10). No significant effect of depression was observed in either left or right hemisphere hippocampal volume (P=0.813 and P=0.811, respectively).

DISCUSSION: Potential mechanisms for reduced hippocampal volume in fibromyalgia include abnormal glutamate excitatory neurotransmission and glucocorticoid dysfunction; these factors can lead to neuronal atrophy, through excitotoxicity, and disrupt neurogenesis in the hippocampus. Hippocampal atrophy may play a role in memory and cognitive complaints among fibromyalgia patients.

Source: Journal of Pain Research, January 30, 2015. By Christina S McCrae, Andrew M O’Shea, Jeff Boissoneault, Karlyn E Vatthauer, Michael E Robinson, Roland Staud, William M Perlstein and Jason G Craggs. Rehabilitation Research and Development Brain Research Center of Excellence, Veterans Administration Medical Center, Gainesville, FL, USA.

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One thought on “Reduced Volume of Hippocampus May Be Related to Cognitive Problems in Fibromyalgia”

  1. klutzo says:

    I’ve had FMS for 29 years and have severe memory problems, so they checked me for possible Alzheimer’s. The MRI showed normal hippocampal size, so this does not fit me at all. In my case, I think it is the drugs I take, especially the benzo class of drugs.

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