We use fMRI to examine brain activity for pain elicited by palpating joints in a single patient suffering from psoriatic arthritis. Changes in these responses are documented when the patient ingested a single dose of a selective cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitor (COX-2i). We show that mechanical stimulation of the painful joints exhibited a cortical activity pattern similar to that reported for acute pain, with activity primarily localized to the thalamus, insular, primary and secondary somatosensory cortices and the mid anterior cingulum. COX-2i resulted in significant decreased in reported pain intensity and in brain activity after 1 hour of administration. The anterior insula and SII correlated with pain intensity, however no central activation site for the drug was detected. We demonstrate the similarity of the activation pattern for palpating painful joints to brain activity in normal subjects in response to thermal painful stimuli, by performing a spatial conjunction analysis between these maps, where overlap is observed in the insula, thalamus, secondary somatosensory cortex, and anterior cingulate. The results demonstrate that one can study effects of pharmacological manipulations in a single subject where the brain activity for a clinical condition is delineated and its modulation by COX-2i demonstrated. This approach may have diagnostic and prognostic utility.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Medicine
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine