Brain Imaging and Behavior

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 1127–1134 | Cite as

Intrinsic brain abnormalities in irritable bowel syndrome and effect of anxiety and depression

  • Rongfeng Qi
  • Chang Liu
  • Jun Ke
  • Qiang Xu
  • Jianhui Zhong
  • Fangyu Wang
  • Long Jiang ZhangEmail author
  • Guang Ming LuEmail author
Original Research


This resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) study investigated intrinsic brain abnormalities in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and effect of anxiety and depression. Thirty IBS patients and 31 matched healthy controls underwent rs-fMRI scanning. Regional brain activity was evaluated by measuring the amplitude of low-frequency fluctuation (ALFF) and compared between IBS patients and healthy controls with a two-sample t-test. Areas with abnormal ALFF were further used as seeds in subsequent inter-regional functional connectivity (FC) analysis. Statistical analyses were also performed by including anxiety and depression as covariates to evaluate their effect. Compared to healthy controls, IBS patients showed decreased ALFF in several core default mode network regions (medial prefrontal cortex [MPFC], posterior cingulate cortex [PCC], bilateral inferior parietal cortices [IPC]), and in middle frontal cortex, right orbital part of the superior frontal gyrus (ORBsup), dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC), and ventral anterior cingulated cortex (vACC), while they showed increased ALFF in bilateral posterior insula and cuneus. In addition, IBS patients revealed decreased inter-regional positive FC between MPFC and right ORBsup, between vACC and PCC, as well as decreased negative FC between MPFC and left posterior insula, while they showed increased negative FC between MPFC and cuneus. The inclusion of anxiety and depression as covariates abolished ALFF differences in dACC and vACC, but none of the FC differences. In conclusion: IBS patients had disturbed intrinsic brain function. High levels of anxiety and depression in IBS patients could account for their decreased intrinsic brain activity in regions (the ACC) involved in affective processing.


Irritable bowel syndrome Amplitude of low-frequency fluctuation Functional connectivity Inter-regional Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging 



This study was funded by the Natural Scientific Foundation of China [Grant Nos. 81322020, 81230032 and 81171313 for Long Jiang Zhang, Grant No. 81301209 for Rongfeng Qi], the Program for New Century Excellent Talents in the University (NCET-12-0260 for Long Jiang Zhang), and the Chinese Key Program (Grant Nos. BWS11J063 and 10z026 for Guang Ming Lu).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of Interest

Rongfeng Qi declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Chang Liu declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Jun Ke declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Qiang Xu declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Jianhui Zhong declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Fangyu Wang declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Long Jiang Zhang declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Guang Ming Lu declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rongfeng Qi
    • 1
  • Chang Liu
    • 2
  • Jun Ke
    • 1
  • Qiang Xu
    • 1
  • Jianhui Zhong
    • 3
  • Fangyu Wang
    • 2
  • Long Jiang Zhang
    • 1
    Email author
  • Guang Ming Lu
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Medical Imaging, Jinling HospitalMedical School of Nanjing UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.Department of Gastroenterology, Jinling HospitalMedical School of Nanjing UniversityNanjingChina
  3. 3.Center for Brain Imaging Science and Technology, and Center for Innovative and Collaborative Detection and Treatment of Infectious DiseasesZhejiang UniversityHangzhouChina

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