The functional and structural alterations of the striatum in chronic spontaneous urticaria
The brain has long been known to be the regulation center of itch, but the neuropathology of chronic itch, such as chronic spontaneous urticaria (CSU), remains unclear. Thus, we aimed to explore the brain areas involved in the pathophysiology of CSU in hopes that our results may provide valuable insights into the treatment of chronic itch conditions. 40 CSU patients and 40 healthy controls (HCs) were recruited. Urticaria activity scores 7 (UAS7) were collected to evaluate patient’s clinical symptoms. Amplitude of low frequency fluctuations (ALFF), voxel-based morphometry (VBM), and seed-based resting-state functional connectivity (rs-FC) analysis were used to assess brain activity and related plasticity. Compared with HCs, CSU patients exhibited 1) higher ALFF values in the right ventral striatum / putamen, which were positively associated with clinical symptoms as measured by UAS7; 2) gray matter volume (GMV) increase in the right ventral striatum and putamen; and 3) decreased rs-FC between the right ventral striatum and the right occipital cortex and between the right putamen and the left precentral gyrus. Using multiple-modality brain imaging tools, we demonstrated the dysfunction of the striatum in CSU. Our results may provide valuable insights into the neuropathology and development of chronic itch.