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Brain. 2010 Jul;133(Pt 7):2115-22. doi: 10.1093/brain/awq131. Epub 2010 Jun 2.

Frontal white matter abnormalities following chronic ketamine use: a diffusion tensor imaging study.

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  • 1Mental Health Institute, Second Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, 139 Renmin (M) Road, Changsha, Hunan, 410011, People's Republic of China.


Ketamine abuse has been shown to have a deleterious impact on brain function. However, the precise mechanisms of ketamine dependence-induced pathological change remain poorly understood. Although there is evidence for white matter changes in drug abuse, the presence of white matter abnormalities in chronic ketamine users has not been studied. White matter volumes were measured using in vivo diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging data in 41 ketamine-dependent subjects and 44 drug-free healthy volunteers. White matter changes associated with chronic ketamine use were found in bilateral frontal and left temporoparietal cortices. There was also evidence that frontal white matter fractional anisotropy correlated with the severity of drug use (as measured by estimated total ketamine consumption). We provide direct evidence for dose-dependent abnormalities of white matter in bilateral frontal and left temporoparietal regions following chronic ketamine use. The findings suggest a microstructural basis for the changes in cognition and experience observed with prolonged ketamine use. Moreover, the similarities of these changes to those observed in chronic schizophrenia have implications for the glutamate model of this illness.

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