Brain Inflammation Imaged for First Time in Fibromyalgia Patients, Study Reports

Brain Inflammation Imaged for First Time in Fibromyalgia Patients, Study Reports
Combining two imaging techniques allowed researchers, for the first time, to visualize widespread inflammation, specifically mediated via glial cells, in the brains of fibromyalgia (FM) patients. “Finding objective neurochemical changes in the brains of patients with fibromyalgia should help reduce the persistent stigma that many patients face, often being told their symptoms are imaginary and there’s nothing really wrong with them,” Marco Loggia, PhD, a researcher at the Massachusetts General Hospital-based Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging and the study's co-lead author, said in a press release. “We don’t have good treatment options for fibromyalgia, so identifying a potential treatment target could lead to the development of innovative, more effective therapies,” he said. Findings were published in the study, “Brain glial activation in fibromyalgia – A multi-site positron emission tomography investigation,” in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. Despite increasing scientific evidence suggesting that inflammation in the brain — neuroinflammation — plays a role in fibromyalgia, no study until now had provided clear, visible proof of it in patients with the condition. Earlier data from Eva Kosek, MD, PhD, co-senior author of the current study, at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden showed that fibromyalgia patients had increased levels of inflammatory proteins, namely fractalkine and interleukin-8, in their cerebrospinal fluid. In 2015, Loggia’s team successfully imaged neuroinflammation — specifically the activation of glial cells — in the brains of patients with chronic pain using a new imaging approach — a combination of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET), or MR/PE
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