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OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether structural changes are present in the cortical and subcortical gray matter of the brains of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). METHODS: We used two surface-based style morphometry analysis programs and a voxel-based style analysis program to compare high-resolution structural magnetic resonance imaging data obtained for 31 RA patients and 25 age- and sex-matched healthy control subjects. RESULTS: We observed an increase in gray matter content in the basal ganglia of RA patients, mainly in the nucleus accumbens and caudate nucleus. There were no differences in the cortical gray matter. Moreover, patients had a smaller intracranial volume. CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that RA is associated with changes in the subcortical gray matter rather than with cortical gray matter atrophy. Since the basal ganglia play an important role in motor control as well as in pain processing and in modulating behavior in response to aversive stimuli, we suggest that these changes may result from altered motor control or prolonged pain processing. The differences in brain volume may reflect either generalized atrophy or differences in brain development.

Original publication

DOI

10.1002/art.33326

Type

Journal

Arthritis Rheum

Publication Date

02/2012

Volume

64

Pages

371 - 379

Keywords

Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Arthritis, Rheumatoid, Atrophy, Brain, Female, Humans, Image Processing, Computer-Assisted, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Middle Aged, Neuroimaging, Organ Size