Numerous evidence has shown that patients with chronic fatigue syndrome have changes in resting brain functional connectivity, but there is no study on the brain network effect of Tai Chi Chuan intervention in chronic fatigue syndrome.
To explore the influence of Tai Chi Chuan exercise on the causal relationship between brain functional networks in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome, 21 patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and 19 healthy controls were recruited for resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) scanning and 36-item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36) scale assessment before and after 1month-long training in Tai Chi Chuan.
We extracted the resting brain networks using the independent component analysis (ICA) method, analyzed the changes of FC in these networks, conducted Granger causality analysis (GCA) on it, and analyzed the correlation between the difference causality value and the SF-36 scale.
Compared to the healthy control group, the SF-36 scale scores of patients with CFS were lower at baseline. Meanwhile, the causal relationship between sensorimotor network (SMN) and default mode network (DMN) was weakened. The above abnormalities could be improved by Tai Chi Chuan training for 1 month. In addition, the correlation analyses showed that the causal relationship between SMN and DMN was positively correlated with the scores of Role Physical (RP) and Bodily Pain (BP) in chronic fatigue syndrome patients, and the change of causal relationship between SMN and DMN before and after training was positively correlated with the change of BP score.
The findings suggest that Tai Chi Chuan is helpful to improve the quality of life for patients with CFS. The change of Granger causality between SMN and DMN may be a readout parameter of CFS. Tai Chi Chuan may promote the functional plasticity of brain networks in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome by regulating the information transmission between them.