Introduction: The purpose of this study was to investigate whether single-voxel (SV) proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI), and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) detected differences between fibromyalgia (FM) patients and healthy controls. We also searched for correlations between neuroimaging abnormalities and neuropsychological variables.
Methods: Ten patients with FM and 10 gender- and age-matched control subjects were studied. A neuropsychological examination, DWI, DTI, and proton MRS were performed on the brain areas known to be associated with pain processing.
Results: Compared with healthy controls, FM patients had significantly higher levels of glutamate + glutamine (Glx) (mean ± SD, 10.71 ± 0.50 arbitrary institutional units versus 9.89 ± 1.04; P = 0.049) and higher glutamate + glutamine/creatine (Glx/Cr) ratios (1.90 ± 0.12 versus 1.72 ± 0.23; P = 0.034) in the posterior gyrus. Myoinositol (Ins) levels of the right and left hippocampi were significantly lower in FM patients (4.49 ± 0.74 versus 5.17 ± 0.62; P = 0.008 and 4.91 ± 0.85 versus 6.09 ± 0.78; P = 0.004, respectively). In FM patients, decreased myoinositol/creatine (Ins/Cr) ratios were found in the left sensorimotor area (P = 0.05) and the left hippocampus (P = 0.002) and lower levels of choline (P = 0.019) and N-acetyl aspartate + N-acetyl aspartyl glutamate (NAA + NAG) (P = 0.034) in the left hippocampus. Significant correlations between depression, pain, and global function and the posterior gyrus Glx levels and Glx/Cr ratios were observed.
Conclusions: Glx within the posterior gyrus could be a pathologic factor in FM. Hippocampal dysfunction may be partially responsible for the depressive symptoms of FM. Additional studies with larger samples are required to confirm these preliminary data.