Disrupted white matter integrity in heroin dependence: a controlled study utilizing diffusion tensor imaging

Haihong Liu, Lin Li, Yihui Hao, Dong Cao, Lin Xu, Robert Rohrbaugh, Zhimin Xue, Wei Hao, Baoci Shan, Zhening Liu
American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse 2008, 34 (5): 562-75

OBJECTIVES: Fractional anisotropy (FA) via diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) can quantify the white matter integrity. Exposure to addictive drugs, such as alcohol, cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana, and nicotine has been shown to alter FA. White matter abnormalities have been shown, but it remains unclear whether the white matter FA is altered in heroin dependence.

METHODS: Utilizing DTI, we investigated the FA difference between heroin-dependent and control subjects by a voxel-based strategy. The FA values of the identified regions were calculated from the FA image of each subject and were correlated with clinical features including months of heroin use, age, education, and dose of methadone.

RESULTS: Reduced FA among 16 heroin dependent subjects was located in the bilateral frontal sub-gyral regions, right precentral and left cingulate gyrus. FA in the right frontal sub-gyral was negatively correlated with duration of heroin use.

CONCLUSION: The disrupted white matter integrity in right frontal white matter may occur in continuous heroin abuse.

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