Current Issue - July/August 2017 - Vol 20 Issue 5


  1. 2017;20;E687-E699Local Brain Activity Differences Between Herpes Zoster and Postherpetic Neuralgia Patients: A Resting-State Functional MRI Study
    Observational Study
    Song Cao, MD, PhD, Ying Li, MD, Wenwen Deng, MD, Bangyong Qin, MD, Yi Zhang, MD, PhD, Peng Xie, MD, PhD, Jie Yuan, MD, PhD, Buwei Yu, MD, PhD, and Tian Yu, MD.

BACKGROUND: Herpes zoster (HZ) can develop into postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), both of which are painful diseases. PHN patients suffer chronic pain and emotional disorders. Previous studies showed that the PHN brain displayed abnormal activity and structural change, but the difference in brain activity between HZ and PHN is still not known.

OBJECTIVES: To identify regional brain activity changes in HZ and PHN brains with resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) technique, and to observe the differences between HZ and PHN patients.

STUDY DESIGN: Observational study.

SETTING: University hospital.

METHODS: Regional homogeneity (ReHo) and fractional aptitude of low-frequency fluctuation (fALFF) methods were employed to analysis resting-state brain activity. Seventy-three age and gender matched patients (50 HZ, 23 PHN) and 55 healthy controls were enrolled. ReHo and fALFF changes were analyzed to detect the functional abnormality in HZ and PHN brains.

RESULTS: Compared with healthy controls, HZ and PHN patients exhibited abnormal ReHo and fALFF values in classic pain-related brain regions (such as the frontal lobe, thalamus, insular, and cerebellum) as well as the brainstem, limbic lobe, and temporal lobe. When HZ developed to PHN, the activity in the vast area of the cerebellum significantly increased while that of some regions in the occipital lobe, temporal lobe, parietal lobe, and limbic lobe showed an apparent decrease.

LIMITATIONS: (a) Relatively short pain duration (mean 12.2 months) and small sample size (n = 23) for PHN group. (b) Comparisons at different time points (with paired t-tests) for each patient may minimize individual differences.

CONCLUSIONS: HZ and PHN induced local brain activity changed in the pain matrix, brainstem, and limbic system. HZ chronification induced functional change in the cerebellum, occipital lobe, temporal lobe, parietal lobe, and limbic lobe. These brain activity changes may be correlated with HZ-PHN transition.

KEY WORDS: Herpes roster, postherpetic neuralgia, resting-state fMRI (rs-fMRI), regional homogeneity (ReHo), fractional aptitude of low-frequency fluctuation (fALFF)