Published 9 September 2019 | https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-49360-1
Ketamine has been used to treat chronic pain; however, it is still unknown as to what types of chronic pain is ketamine effective against. To identify the effect of administration of subanesthetic-dose ketamine in patients with chronic pain and to clarify the mechanism of the effect, we retrospectively investigated brain functional connectivity using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI). Patients were divided into responders (Group R: ≥50% improvement on Numerical Rating Scale) and non-responders (Group NR). We compared the differences in terms of brain functional connectivity by seed-to-voxel correlation analysis. Two-sample t-test revealed significant lower connectivity between the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and precuneus in Group R. We also found a significant negative correlation between the improvement rate and functional connectivity strength between the mPFC and precuneus. These findings suggest that subanesthetic-dose ketamine is effective in patients with chronic pain whose brain functional connectivity between the mPFC and precuneus is low. We believe that the current study explored for the first time the correlation between brain functional connectivity and the effect of subanesthetic-dose ketamine for chronic pain and indicated the possibility of use of the predictive marker in pharmacological treatment of chronic pain.
Keywords: ketamine, chronic pain, pain