J Neurogastroenterol Motil.  2021 Jul;27(3):426-435. 10.5056/jnm20134.

Inter-hemispheric Functional Connections Are More Vulnerable to Attack Than Structural Connection in Patients With Irritable Bowel Syndrome

  • 1Department of Magnetic Resonance, Lanzhou University Second Hospital, Lanzhou, China
  • 2Gansu Provincial Key Laboratory of Wearable Computing, School of Information Science and Engineering, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, China
  • 3Department of Gastroenterology, Lanzhou University Second Hospital, Lanzhou, China
  • 4CAS Center for Excellence in Brain Science and Intelligence Technology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China
  • 5Joint Research Center for Cognitive Neurosensor Technology of Lanzhou University and Institute of Semiconductors, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou, China
  • 6Engineering Research Center of Open Source Software and Real-Time System (Lanzhou University), Ministry of Education, Lanzhou, China


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a prevalent functional gastrointestinal disease characterized by recurrent abdominal pain and bowel dysfunction. However, the majority of previous neuroimaging studies focus on brain structure and connections but seldom on the inter-hemispheric connectivity or structural asymmetry. This study uses multi-modal imaging to investigate the abnormal changes across the 2 cerebral hemispheres in patients with IBS.
Structural MRI, resting-state functional MRI, and diffusion tensor imaging were acquired from 34 patients with IBS and 33 healthy controls. The voxel-mirrored homotopic connectivity, fractional anisotropy, fiber length, fiber number, and asymmetry index were calculated and assessed for group differences. In addition, we assessed their relevance for the severity of IBS.
Compared with healthy controls, the inter-hemispheric functional connectivity of patients with IBS showed higher levels in bilateral superior occipital gyrus, middle occipital gyrus, precuneus, posterior cingulate gyrus, and angular gyrus, but lower in supplementary motor area. The statistical results showed no significant difference in inter-hemispheric anatomical connections and structural asymmetry, however negative correlations between inter-hemispheric connectivity and the severity of IBS were found in some regions with significant difference.
The functional connections between cerebral hemispheres were more susceptible to IBS than anatomical connections, and brain structure is relatively stable. Besides, the brain areas affected by IBS were concentrated in default mode network and sensorimotor network.


Brain; Default mode network; Irritable bowel syndrome; Neuroimaging
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