• Determining the Neural Correlates of Burning Mouth Syndrome

      Payano Sosa, Janell; Seminowicz, David A.; 0000-0003-1337-3749 (2020)
      In the United States, nearly 1 million people suffer from burning mouth syndrome (BMS), a chronic orofacial pain condition that is largely unrecognized by the medical community and predominantly affects post- and peri-menopausal women. Relatively little in-depth research is available on the condition, and patients often give up seeking treatment. The pain in BMS arises spontaneously (i.e. in the absence of stimuli), but the mechanisms of this spontaneous pain is unclear, and there is limited research on structural and functional brain changes that may occur in a BMS sufferer. The goal of this dissertation was to investigate the central nervous system mechanisms of pain experienced in BMS. We collected: 8-day diaries, morning and afternoon quantitative sensory testing of both orofacial and forearm regions; afternoon structural and functional MRIs, and questionnaires from 27 BMS patients and 33 healthy post-menopausal women. Our hypotheses that, compared to healthy participants BMS patients have: higher pain sensitivity, especially in orofacial regions during the afternoon; lower grey matter volume and higher functional connectivity in nociceptive pathways associated with noxious heat during rest and evoked thermal pain, even after accounting for anxiety, were not supported. Instead, we found a time-of-day-dependent effect during warm detection and cold detection of face and forearm; lower grey matter volume of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), and higher grey matter volume of the inferior temporal gyrus and parabrachial nucleus (PBN); lower PBN connectivity with the DLPFC and primary somatosensory cortex (S1); higher connectivity of the right lateral hypothalamus (LH) with posterior insula during warm condition; connectivity of right medial hypothalamus and LH to left DLPFC and right PBN to bilateral S1 not associated with anxiety in BMS compared to healthy participants. Altogether, BMS showed abnormal responses to innocuous stimuli. This was supported by fMRI data, where connectivity differences were mostly present during innocuous stimulation. These altered sensory and brain responses could reflect heightened anticipation of thermal stimuli (both pain-specific and non-pain specific) associated with disruption of communication between regions associated with negative affect of pain (insula), attention modulation of pain (left DLPFC), somatosensation (S1), and thermoregulation (LH and PBN).