Resting-State Functional Connectivity Predicts Motor Cortex Stimulation-Dependent Pain Relief in Fibromyalgia Syndrome Patients

SOURCE: Scientific Reports. 12(1):17135, 2022 Oct 12.

AUTHORS: Argaman Y; Granovsky Y; Sprecher E; Sinai A; Yarnitsky D; Weissman-Fogel I

ABSTRACT: MRI-based resting-state functional connectivity (rsFC) has been shown to predict response to pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments for chronic pain, but not yet for motor cortex transcranial magnetic stimulation (M1-rTMS). Twenty-seven fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) patients participated in this double-blind, crossover, and sham-controlled study. Ten daily treatments of 10 Hz M1-rTMS were given over 2 weeks. Before treatment series, patients underwent resting-state fMRI and clinical pain evaluation. Significant pain reduction occurred following active, but not sham, M1-rTMS. The following rsFC patterns predicted reductions in clinical pain intensity after the active treatment: weaker rsFC of the default-mode network with the middle frontal gyrus (r = 0.76, p < 0.001), the executive control network with the rostro-medial prefrontal cortex (r = 0.80, p < 0.001), the thalamus with the middle frontal gyrus (r = 0.82, p < 0.001), and the pregenual anterior cingulate cortex with the inferior parietal lobule (r = 0.79, p < 0.001); and stronger rsFC of the anterior insula with the angular gyrus (r = – 0.81, p < 0.001). The above regions process the attentional and emotional aspects of pain intensity; serve as components of the resting-state networks; are modulated by rTMS; and are altered in FMS. Therefore, we suggest that in FMS, the weaker pre-existing interplay between pain-related brain regions and networks, the larger the pain relief resulting from M1-rTMS.