JOURNAL ARTICLE

Abnormal cortical thickness in heroin-dependent individuals

Meng Li, Junzhang Tian, Ruibin Zhang, Yingwei Qiu, Xue Wen, Xiaofen Ma, Junjing Wang, Yong Xu, Guihua Jiang, Ruiwang Huang
NeuroImage 2014, 88: 295-307
24140937
Accumulating evidence from brain structural imaging studies on heroin dependence has supported links between brain morphological alterations and heroin exposure, particularly in gray matter volume or gray matter density. However, the effects of heroin exposure on cortical thickness and the relationship between cortical thickness and heroin addiction are not yet known. In this study, we acquired 3D high-resolution brain structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data from 18 heroin-dependent individuals (HDIs) and 15 healthy controls (HCs). Using FreeSurfer, we detected abnormalities in cortical thickness in the HDIs. Based on a vertex-wise analysis, the HDIs showed significantly decreased cortical thickness in the bilateral superior frontal, left caudal middle frontal, right superior temporal, and right insular regions compared to the HCs but significantly increased cortical thickness in the left superior parietal, bilateral lingual, left temporal pole, right inferior parietal, right lateral occipital, and right cuneus regions. To supplement these results, a subsequent ROI-wise analysis was performed and showed decreased cortical thickness in the left superior frontal sulcus, left precuneus gyrus, left calcarine sulcus, left anterior transverse collateral sulcus, and the right medial occipital-temporal and lingual sulcus. These regions partially overlapped with the areas identified using the vertex-wise analysis. In addition, we found that the thickness in the right superior frontal and right insular regions was negatively correlated with the duration of heroin use. These results provide compelling evidence for cortical abnormality in HDIs and also suggest that the duration of heroin use may be a critical factor associated with the brain alteration.

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