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Stress-induced brain activity, brain atrophy, and clinical disability in multiple sclerosis

Item Type:Article
Title:Stress-induced brain activity, brain atrophy, and clinical disability in multiple sclerosis
Creators Name:Weygandt, M. and Meyer-Arndt, L. and Behrens, J.R. and Wakonig, K. and Bellmann-Strobl, J. and Ritter, K. and Scheel, M. and Brandt, A.U. and Labadie, C. and Hetzer, S. and Gold, S.M. and Paul, F. and Haynes, J.D.
Abstract:Prospective clinical studies support a link between psychological stress and multiple sclerosis (MS) disease severity, and peripheral stress systems are frequently dysregulated in MS patients. However, the exact link between neurobiological stress systems and MS symptoms is unknown. To evaluate the link between neural stress responses and disease parameters, we used an arterial-spin-labeling functional MRI stress paradigm in 36 MS patients and 21 healthy controls. Specifically, we measured brain activity during a mental arithmetic paradigm with performance-adaptive task frequency and performance feedback and related this activity to disease parameters. Across all participants, stress increased heart rate, perceived stress, and neural activity in the visual, cerebellar and insular cortex areas compared with a resting condition. None of these responses was related to cognitive load (task frequency). Consistently, although performance and cognitive load were lower in patients than in controls, stress responses did not differ between groups. Insula activity elevated during stress compared with rest was negatively linked to impairment of pyramidal and cerebral functions in patients. Cerebellar activation was related negatively to gray matter (GM) atrophy (i.e., positively to GM volume) in patients. Interestingly, this link was also observed in overlapping areas in controls. Cognitive load did not contribute to these associations. The results show that our task induced psychological stress independent of cognitive load. Moreover, stress-induced brain activity reflects clinical disability in MS. Finally, the link between stress-induced activity and GM volume in patients and controls in overlapping areas suggests that this link cannot be caused by the disease alone.
Keywords:Multiple Sclerosis, Psychological Stress, Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Clinical Disability, Brain Atrophy
Source:Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Publisher:National Academy of Sciences
Page Range:13444-13449
Date:22 November 2016
Official Publication:https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1605829113
PubMed:View item in PubMed

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