Altered functional connectivity between hypothalamus and limbic system in fibromyalgia

Mol Brain. 2021 Jan 20;14(1):17. doi: 10.1186/s13041-020-00705-2.


The hypothalamus links the nervous system to the endocrine system and plays a crucial role in maintaining the human body's homeostasis. This study aims to investigate the resting state functional connectivity (rsFC) changes of the hypothalamus in fibromyalgia patients. 24 Fibromyalgia patients and 24 matched healthy controls (HCs) were recruited. Resting state fMRI data were collected from the fibromyalgia patients and HC's. Fibromyalgia patients went through a second scan after 12 weeks of Tai Chi mind-body intervention. Data analysis showed that fibromyalgia patients displayed less medial hypothalamus (MH) rsFC with the thalamus and amygdala when compared to the functional connectivity in the HCs. After the Tai Chi mind-body intervention, fibromyalgia patients showed increased MH rsFC with the thalamus and amygdala accompanied by clinical improvement. Effective connectivity analysis showed disrupted MH and thalamus interaction in the fibromyalgia patients, which was altered by mind-body exercise. Our findings suggest that fibromyalgia is associated with altered functional connectivity within the diencephalon and limbic system. Elucidating the roles of the diencephalon and limbic system in the pathophysiology and development of fibromyalgia may facilitate the development of a new biomarker and effective treatment methods for this prevalent disorder.Trial Registration, NCT02407665. Registered: 3 April 2015,

Keywords: Diencephalon; Fibromyalgia; Hypothalamus; Limbic system; Mind–body intervention; Resting state functional connectivity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

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