Altered amygdala-cortical connectivity in individuals with Cannabis use disorder

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2021
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American English
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Abstract

Background: Cannabis is one of the most commonly used substances in the United States. Prior literature using task-based functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has identified that individuals with Cannabis use disorder (CUD) show impairments in emotion processing circuitry. However, whether the functional networks involving these regions are also altered in CUD remains poorly understood.

Aims: Investigate changes in resting-state functional connectivity (rsFC) in regions related to emotional processing in CUD.

Methods: Sixty-two participants completed resting-state fMRI, including 21 with CUD, 20 with histories of illicit substance use but no current CUD diagnosis, and 21 with no history of illicit substance use. Whole-brain seed-based connectivity analyses were performed and one-way analyses of covariance (ANCOVAs) were conducted to detect group differences in the bilateral amygdalae, hippocampi, and the anterior and posterior cingulate cortices.

Results: The CUD group exhibited significant reductions in rsFC between the amygdala and the cuneus, paracentral lobule, and supplementary motor area, and between the cingulate cortices and the occipital and temporal lobes. There were no significant group differences in hippocampal functional connectivity. In addition, CUD symptom counts based on the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-5 (SCID) and the Cannabis Use Disorders Identification Test (CUDIT) significantly correlated with multiple connectivity metrics.

Conclusion: These data expand on emerging literature indicating that CUD is associated with dysfunction in the neural circuits underlying emotion processing. Dysfunction in emotion processing circuits may play a role in the behavioral impairments seen in emotion processing tasks in individuals with CUD, and the severity of CUD symptoms appears to be directly related to the degree of dysfunction in these circuits.

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Aloi J, McCusker MC, Lew BJ, et al. Altered amygdala-cortical connectivity in individuals with Cannabis use disorder. J Psychopharmacol. 2021;35(11):1365-1374. doi:10.1177/02698811211054163
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Journal of Psychopharmacology
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