Functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging correlates of fatigue in patients with rheumatoid arthritis

Neil Basu (Corresponding Author), Chelsea M. Kaplan, Eric Ichesco, Tony Larkin, Andrew Schrepf, Alison D. Murray, Daniel J. Clauw, Gordon D. Waiter, Richard E. Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Objectives
Fatigue is a major burden among patients with RA, yet is poorly understood. We sought to conduct the first imaging study to investigate the neurobiological correlates of fatigue in RA and to improve upon the methodological limitations of previous neuroimaging studies that have investigated this symptom in other populations.

Methods
Chronically fatigued RA patients were clinically characterized before undertaking a combined functional and structural mode MRI brain scan. The functional sequences were acquired during a fatigue-evoking task, then network-to-whole-brain analyses were undertaken. The structural analyses employed voxel-based morphometry in order to quantify regional grey matter volume. The scan was repeated 6 months later to test reproducibility.

Results
Fifty-four participants attended both scans [n = 41 female; baseline mean (S.D.) age 54.94 (11.41) years]. A number of significant functional and structural neural imaging correlates of fatigue were identified. Notably, patients who reported higher levels of fatigue demonstrated higher levels of functional connectivity between the Dorsal Attention Network and medial prefrontal gyri, a finding that was reproduced in the repeat scans. Structurally, greater putamen grey matter volumes significantly correlated with greater levels of fatigue.

Conclusion
Fatigue in RA is associated with functional and structural MRI changes in the brain. The newly identified and reproduced neural imaging correlates provide a basis for future targeting and stratification of this key patient priority.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1822-1830
Number of pages9
JournalRheumatology
Volume58
Issue number10
Early online date28 Apr 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019

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Keywords

  • fatigue
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • neural imaging correlates
  • functional connectivity
  • voxel-based morphometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Rheumatology

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