Aalto University neuroscientists, in collaboration with researchers at Helsinki University Hospital and Harvard Medical School, have found a link between the size of the choroid plexus in the brain and complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD).
According to a report published on nature.com, a 21 percent increase in choroid plexus volume was found in 12 patients suffering from RSD/CRPS compared with healthy subjects of the same age and gender, while no enlargement was observed in a group of eight patients suffering from chronic pain from other conditions. According to the researchers, this suggests a link between the choroid plexus and the incidence of RSD/CRPS.
What Does the Choroid Plexus Do?
The choroid plexus is the key producer of cerebrospinal fluid, which cushions the central nervous system and secretes various proteins and other substances that control the development and maintenance of the human brain. The choroid plexus also provides an entry point for immune cells into the brain, linking the peripheral and central inflammatory systems.
The association the researchers found via MRI between choroid plexus volume and central pain was somewhat unexpected, but growing evidence suggests a role of the choroid plexus in the presence of chronic pain. The choroid plexus is an important connection between the brain and peripheral inflammation, and recent findings suggest an association between brain inflammation and chronic pain.
A malfunctioning choroid plexus is linked to many diseases, including:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Psychiatric disease
- Thyroid and brain disease
RSD/CRPS is a chronic and highly debilitating condition that typically develops after some sort of minor trauma to one part of the body, such as an arm or a leg, and then spreads to other areas. The pain associated with RSD/CRPS is usually much more intense than what would be considered normal for the injury suffered.