Longitudinal neurofunctional changes in medication overuse headache patients after mindfulness practice in a randomized controlled trial (the MIND-CM study)

Description: Background. Mindfulness practice has gained interest in the management of Chronic Migraine associated with Medication Overuse Headache (CM-MOH). Mindfulness is characterized by present-moment self-awareness and relies on attention control and emotion regulation, improving headache-related pain management. Mindfulness modulates the Default Mode Network (DMN), Salience Network (SN), and Fronto-Parietal Network (FPN) functional connectivity. However, the neural mechanisms underlying headache-related pain management with mindfulness are still unclear. In this study, we tested neurofunctional changes after mindfulness practice added to pharmacological treatment as usual in CM-MOH patients. Methods. The present study is a longitudinal phase-III single-blind Randomized Controlled Trial (MIND-CM study; NCT03671681). Patients had a diagnosis of CM-MOH, no history of neurological and severe psychiatric comorbidities, and were attending our specialty headache centre. Patients were divided in Treatment as Usual (TaU) and mindfulness added to TaU (TaU+MIND) groups. Patients underwent a neuroimaging and clinical assessment before the treatment and after one year. Longitudinal comparisons of DMN, SN, and FPN connectivity were performed between groups and correlated with clinical changes. Vertex-wise analysis was performed to assess cortical thickness changes. Results. 177 CM-MOH patients were randomized to either TaU group or TaU+MIND group. Thirty-four patients, divided in 17 TaU and 17 TaU+MIND, completed the neuroimaging follow-up. At the follow-up, both groups showed an improvement in most clinical variables, whereas only TaU+MIND patients showed a significant headache frequency reduction (p = 0.028). After one year, TaU+MIND patients showed greater SN functional connectivity with the left posterior insula (p-FWE = 0.007) and sensorimotor cortex (p-FWE = 0.026). In TaU+MIND patients only, greater SN-insular connectivity was associated with improved depression scores (r = -0.51, p = 0.038). A longitudinal increase in cortical thickness was observed in the insular cluster in these patients (p = 0.015). Increased anterior cingulate cortex thickness was also reported in TaU+MIND group (p-FWE = 0.02). Conclusions. Increased SN-insular connectivity might modulate chronic pain perception and the management of negative emotions. Enhanced SN-sensorimotor connectivity could reflect improved body-awareness of painful sensations. Expanded cingulate cortex thickness might sustain improved cognitive processing of nociceptive information. Our findings unveil the therapeutic potential of mindfulness and the underlying neural mechanisms in CM-MOH patients. Trial Registration: Name of Registry; MIND-CM study; Registration Number ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT0367168; Registration Date: 14/09/2018

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Add DateJuly 25, 2023, 5:56 p.m.
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