A Review of Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy Studies in Marijuana using Adolescents and Adults

Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy (Impact Factor: 1.77). 04/2013; Suppl 4(S4). DOI: 10.4172/2155-6105.S4-010
Source: PubMed


Marijuana (MJ) remains the most widely used illicit drug of abuse, and accordingly, is associated with adverse effects on mental and physical health, and neurocognitive decline. Studies investigating the neurobiology of underlying MJ effects have demonstrated structural and functional alterations in brain areas that contain moderate to high concentrations of cannabinoid (CB1) receptors and that are implicated in MJ-related cognitive decrements. Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy ((1)H MRS), a non-invasive imaging technique used to assess neurochemistry, has been widely applied to probe a variety of substance-abusing populations. To date, however, there is a relative paucity of MRS published studies characterizing changes in neurometabolite concentrations in MJ users. Thus, the current review provides a summary of data from the eight existing MRS studies of MJ use in adolescents and adults, as well as interpretations and implications of study findings. Future MRS studies that address additional factors such as sex differences, onset and duration of use, abstinence and age, are warranted, and would lead to a more thorough characterization of potential neurochemical correlates of chronic MJ use, which would fill critical gaps in the existing literature.

Download full-text


Available from: Marisa M Silveri, Jul 02, 2014
  • Source
    • "Findings from neuroimaging studies of MJ users, often focused on either adolescent users or adult users, document significant associations between marijuana use and alterations in neurobiology , including brain structure, function and neurochemistry (for review, see Batalla et al., 2013; Martin-Santos et al., 2010; Sneider et al., 2013b). Findings of alterations in brain structure reported using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are somewhat heterogenous , however, and the significance of the changes identified using this technology remains controversial because of conflicting findings among existing studies. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The prevalence of marijuana (MJ) use among youth and its legalization for medical or recreational use has intensified public health endeavors of understanding MJ effects on brain structure and function. Studies indicate that MJ use is related to impaired cognitive performance, and altered functional brain activation and chemistry in adolescents and adults, but MJ effects on brain morphology in emerging adults are less understood. Fifteen MJ users (age 21.8±3.6, 2 females) and 15 non-user (NU) participants (age 22.3±3.5, 2 females) were included, demographically matched on age, education and alcohol use. High-resolution structural MR images were acquired at 3Tesla. Cortical thickness (CT) and volumetric analyses were performed using Freesurfer. A priori regions of interest (ROI) included orbitofrontal and cingulate cortices, amygdala, hippocampus and thalamus. Whole brain CT analysis did not result in significant group differences in a priori ROIs but revealed MJ users had significantly less CT (i.e., thinness) in right fusiform gyrus (rFG) compared to NU (p<0.05). Thalamic volume was significantly smaller in MJ users compared to NU (right, p=0.05; left, p=0.01) and associated with greater non-planning (p<0.01) and overall impulsivity (p=0.04). There were no other group differences. RFG cortical thinness and smaller thalamic volume in emerging adults is associated with MJ abuse. Furthermore, smaller thalamic volume associated with greater impulsivity contributes to growing evidence that the thalamus is neurobiologically perturbed by MJ use. Collectively, altered thalamic and rFG structural integrity may interfere with their known roles in regulating visuoperceptual and object information processing. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Drug and Alcohol Dependence 06/2015; in press. DOI:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2015.06.016 · 3.42 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Neuroimaging, including PET, MRI, and MRS, is a powerful approach to the study of brain function. This article reviews neuroimaging findings related to alcohol and other drugs of abuse that have been published since 2011. Uses of neuroimaging are to characterize patients to determine who will fare better in treatment and to investigate the reasons underlying the effect on outcomes. Neuroimaging is also used to characterize the acute and chronic effects of substances on the brain and how those effects are related to dependence, relapse, and other drug effects. The data can be used to provide encouraging information for patients, as several studies have shown that long-term abstinence is associated with at least partial normalization of neurological abnormalities.
    03/2014; 1(1). DOI:10.1007/s40473-013-0005-7
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Adolescence is characterized by heightened risk-taking, including substance misuse. These behavioral patterns are influenced by ontogenic changes in neurotransmitter systems, particularly the dopamine system, which is fundamentally involved in the neural coding of reward and motivated approach behavior. During adolescence, this system evidences a peak in activity. At the same time, the dopamine (DA) system is neuroplastically altered by substance abuse, impacting subsequent function. Here, we describe properties of the dopamine system that change with typical adolescent development and that are altered with substance abuse. Much of this work has been gleaned from animal models due to limitations in measuring dopamine in pediatric samples. Structural and functional neuroimaging techniques have been used to examine structures that are heavily DA-innervated; they measure morphological and functional changes with age and with drug exposure. Presenting marijuana abuse as an exemplar, we consider recent findings that support an adolescent peak in DA-driven reward-seeking behavior and related deviations in motivational systems that are associated with marijuana abuse/dependence. Clinicians are advised that (1) chronic adolescent marijuana use may lead to deficiencies in incentive motivation, (2) that this state is due to marijuana's interactions with the developing DA system, and (3) that treatment strategies should be directed to remediating resultant deficiencies in goal-directed activity.
    CNS spectrums 06/2015; 20(4):1-15. DOI:10.1017/S1092852915000395 · 2.71 Impact Factor
Show more