Background: Blepharospasm (BSP) and hemifacial spasm (HFS) are both facial hyperkinesia however BSP is thought to be caused by maladaptation in multiple brain regions in contrast to the peripherally induced cause in HFS. Plausible coexisting pathophysiologies between these two distinct diseases have been proposed.
Objectives: In this study, we compared brain resting state functional connectivity (rsFC) and quantitative thermal test (QTT) results between patients with BSP, HFS and heathy controls (HCs).
Methods: This study enrolled 12 patients with BSP, 11 patients with HFS, and 15 HCs. All subjects received serial neuropsychiatric evaluations, questionnaires determining disease severity and functional impairment, QTT, and resting state functional MRI. Image data were acquired using seed-based analyses using the CONN toolbox.
Results: A higher cold detection threshold was found in the BSP and HFS patients compared to the HCs. The BSP and HFS patients had higher rsFC between the anterior cerebellum network and left occipital regions compared to the HCs. In all subjects, impaired cold detection threshold in the QTT of lower extremities had a correlation with higher rsFC between the anterior cerebellar network and left lingual gyrus. Compared to the HCs, increased rsFC in right postcentral gyrus in the BSP patients and decreased rsFC in the right amygdala and frontal orbital cortex in the HFS subjects were revealed when the anterior cerebellar network was used as seed.
Conclusions: Dysfunction of sensory processing detected by the QTT is found in the BSP and HSP patients. Altered functional connectivity between the anterior cerebellar network and left occipital region, especially the Brodmann area 19, may indicate the possibility of shared pathophysiology among BSP, HFS, and impaired cold detection threshold. Further large-scale longitudinal study is needed for testing this theory in the future.