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Study sheds light on grey matter

Changes in the levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine may explain brain grey matter reductions experienced by patients with fibromyalgia, a study has found

A new brain imaging study has shown that changes in the levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine may explain brain grey matter reductions experienced by patients with fibromyalgia.

Previous research found an association between fibromyalgia and reductions in grey matter, but the cause wasn't known, say the researchers.

In this new study, Dr Patrick B Wood, of Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, Shreveport in the US and colleagues used MRI to compare the brains of 30 women with fibromyalgia and 20 healthy women of the same age. Significant reductions in grey matter were found in the fibromyalgia patients, confirming previous findings.

The new study also found that fibromyalgia patients showed a strong correlation of dopamine metabolism levels and grey matter density in areas of the brain where dopamine is known to control neurological activity.

This association between dopamine levels and grey matter density offers new information about a possible mechanism behind some of the brain abnormalities seen in fibromyalgia patients, researchers concluded.

The study is published in the Journal of Pain (June issue).

22nd June 2009

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