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Gross morphological brain changes with chronic, heavy cannabis use

  • Valentina Lorenzetti (a1), Nadia Solowij (a2), Sarah Whittle (a3), Alex Fornito (a1), Dan I. Lubman (a4), Christos Pantelis (a5) and Murat Yücel (a6)...

Summary

We investigated the morphology of multiple brain regions in a rare sample of 15 very heavy cannabis users with minimal psychiatric comorbidity or significant exposure to other substances (compared with 15 age- and IQ-matched non-cannabis-using controls) using manual techniques. Heavy cannabis users demonstrated smaller hippocampus and amygdala volumes, but no alterations of the orbitofrontal and anterior- and paracingulate cortices, or the pituitary gland. These findings indicate that chronic cannabis use has a selective and detrimental impact on the morphology of the mediotemporal lobe.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Murat Yücel, Monash Clinical and Imaging Neuroscience 1st floor, Monash Biomedical Imaging, 770 Blackburn Road, Clayton, Victoria 3800, Australia. Email: murat.yucel@monash.edu

Footnotes

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This study was supported by grants from the Clive and Vera Ramaciotti Foundation, the Schizophrenia Research Institute using infrastructure funding from NSW Health, the University of Wollongong and the Australian Research Council Future Fellowship (FT110100752) (N.S.), the Monash University Bridging Post-doctoral Fellowship, Monash University (V.L.); NHMRC Career Development Fellowship (S.W.); the Australian Research Council Future Fellowship (FT130100589) (A.F.); the NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellowship (ID: 628386) and NARSAD Distinguished Investigator Award (C.P.) and the NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship (M.Y.).

Declaration of interest

None.

Footnotes

References

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1 Lorenzetti, V, Solowij, N, Fornito, A, Lubman, D, Yücel, M. The association between regular cannabis exposure and alterations of human brain morphology: an updated review of the literature. Curr Pharm Des 2014; 20: 2138–67.
2 Morey, RA, Petty, CM, Xu, Y, Hayes, JP, Wagner, HR 2nd, Lewis, DV, et al. A comparison of automated segmentation and manual tracing for quantifying hippocampal and amygdala volumes. NeuroImage 2009; 45: 855–66.
3 Fornito, A, Whittle, S, Wood, S, Velakoulis, D, Pantelis, C, Yücel, M. The influence of sulcal variability on morphometry of the human anterior cingulate and paracingulate cortex. NeuroImage 2006; 33: 843–54.
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7 Cheetham, A, Allen, NB, Whittle, S, Simmons, J, Yücel, M, Lubman, DI. Orbitofrontal volumes in early adolescence predict initiation of cannabis use: a 4-year longitudinal and prospective study. Biol Psychiatry 2012; 71: 684–92.
8 Rocchetti, M, Crescini, A, Borgwardt, S, Caverzasi, E, Politi, P, Atakan, Z, et al. Is cannabis neurotoxic for the healthy brain? A meta-analytical review of structural brain alterations in non-psychotic users. Psychiatry Clin Neurosci 2013; 67: 483–92.
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10 Zalesky, A, Solowij, N, Yücel, M, Lubman, DI, Takagi, M, Harding, IH, et al. Effect of long-term cannabis use on axonal fibre connectivity. Brain 2012; 135: 2245–55.
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The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: 0007-1250
  • EISSN: 1472-1465
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
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Gross morphological brain changes with chronic, heavy cannabis use

  • Valentina Lorenzetti (a1), Nadia Solowij (a2), Sarah Whittle (a3), Alex Fornito (a1), Dan I. Lubman (a4), Christos Pantelis (a5) and Murat Yücel (a6)...
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