Functional magnetic resonance imaging study reveals differences in the habituation to psychological stress in patients with Crohn's disease versus healthy controls.
Agostini A., Filippini N., Benuzzi F., Bertani A., Scarcelli A., Leoni C., Farinelli V., Riso D., Tambasco R., Calabrese C., Rizzello F., Gionchetti P., Ercolani M., Nichelli P., Campieri M.
In patients with Crohn's disease (CD) stress is believed to increase the incidence of disease relapse. The brain processes stressful stimuli and triggers the stress-evoked responses. Habituation to stress is an adaptive process that allows minimizing these responses. We hypothesized inadequate habituation to stress in CD patients. The aim of this study was to compare the neural habituation between CD patients and controls. Twenty CD patients and eighteen controls underwent a functional magnetic resonance imaging while performing two repeated runs of a stress-evoking task. The task elicited different neural activity between the groups across runs in (1) amygdala, hippocampus, (2) insula, putamen (3) cerebellar regions, suggesting altered habituation to stress in patients. These structures regulate the neuroendocrine and autonomic stress-evoked responses that control the proinflammatory responses. The inadequate habituation to stress that we found in patients could play a role in the relationship between stress and inflammatory exacerbations in CD.