Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional disorder of brain-gut interactions. Differential brain responses to rectal distention between IBS and healthy controls (HCs) have been demonstrated, particularly in the pain matrix and the default mode network. This study aims to compare resting-state functional properties of these networks between IBS patients and HCs using graph analysis in two independent cohorts. We used a weighted graph analysis of the adjacency matrix based on partial correlations between time series in the different regions in each subject to determine subject specific graph measures. These graph measures were normalized by values obtained in equivalent random networks. We did not find any significant differences between IBS patients and controls in global normalized graph measures, hubs, or modularity structure of the pain matrix and the DMN in any of our two independent cohorts. Furthermore, we did not find consistent associations between these global network measures and IBS symptom severity or GI-specific anxiety but we found a significant difference in the relationship between measures of psychological distress (anxiety and/or depressive symptoms) and normalized characteristic path length. The responses of these networks to visceral stimulation rather than their organisation at rest may be primarily disturbed in IBS.
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