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J Neurosci. 2019 Mar 6;39(10):1817-1827. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3375-17.2018. Epub 2019 Jan 14.

Grey Matter Volume Differences Associated with Extremely Low Levels of Cannabis Use in Adolescence.

Author information

1
Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology, University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont 05405, corr@swin.edu.au.
2
Department of Psychological Sciences, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Victoria 3122, Australia.
3
Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology, University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont 05405.
4
Department of Psychology, University College Dublin, Dublin 4, Ireland.
5
Department of Psychology and Institute of Neuroscience, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland.
6
Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, West Haven, Connecticut 06516.
7
Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim, Heidelberg University, 68159 Mannheim, Germany.
8
Discipline of Psychiatry, School of Medicine and Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland.
9
University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf, 20246, Hamburg, Germany.
10
Centre for Population Neuroscience and Stratified Medicine (PONS) and MRC-SGDP Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College London, WC2R 2LS United Kingdom.
11
Centre de recherche du CHU Ste-Justine and.
12
Department of Psychiatry, Université de Montréal, 3175 Chemin de la Côte Sainte-Catherine, Montreal, Québec H3T 1C5, Canada.
13
National Addiction Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN), King's College London, Addiction Sciences Building, London SE5 8BB, United Kingdom.
14
Department of Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience, Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim, Heidelberg University, 68159 Mannheim, Germany.
15
Department of Psychology, School of Social Sciences, University of Mannheim, 68131 Mannheim, Germany.
16
NeuroSpin, CEA, Université Paris-Saclay, F-91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France.
17
Sir Peter Mansfield Imaging Centre School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham, NG7 2RD United Kingdom.
18
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Campus Charité Mitte, Charité, Universitätsmedizin Berlin, 10117 Berlin, Germany.
19
Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB), Braunschweig and Berlin, Germany, Berlin, 10587 Germany.
20
Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, INSERM Unit 1000 "Neuroimaging and Psychiatry", University Paris Sud-University Paris Saclay, DIGITEO Labs, 91190 Gif sur Yvette, France.
21
Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, INSERM Unit 1000 "Neuroimaging and Psychiatry", and AP-HP, Department of Adolescent Psychopathology and Medicine, Maison de Solenn, Cochin Hospital, 75014 Paris, France.
22
Rotman Research Institute, Baycrest, and Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario M6A 2E1, Canada.
23
Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Medical Centre Göttingen, 37075, Göttingen, Germany.
24
Clinic for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Medical University of Vienna, 1090, Vienna, Austria, and.
25
Department of Psychiatry and Neuroimaging Center, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, 01069 Germany.

Abstract

Rates of cannabis use among adolescents are high, and are increasing concurrent with changes in the legal status of marijuana and societal attitudes regarding its use. Recreational cannabis use is understudied, especially in the adolescent period when neural maturation may make users particularly vulnerable to the effects of Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on brain structure. In the current study, we used voxel-based morphometry to compare gray matter volume (GMV) in forty-six 14-year-old human adolescents (males and females) with just one or two instances of cannabis use and carefully matched THC-naive controls. We identified extensive regions in the bilateral medial temporal lobes as well as the bilateral posterior cingulate, lingual gyri, and cerebellum that showed greater GMV in the cannabis users. Analysis of longitudinal data confirmed that GMV differences were unlikely to precede cannabis use. GMV in the temporal regions was associated with contemporaneous performance on the Perceptual Reasoning Index and with future generalized anxiety symptoms in the cannabis users. The distribution of GMV effects mapped onto biomarkers of the endogenous cannabinoid system providing insight into possible mechanisms for these effects.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Almost 35% of American 10th graders have reported using cannabis and existing research suggests that initiation of cannabis use in adolescence is associated with long-term neurocognitive effects. We understand very little about the earliest effects of cannabis use, however, because most research is conducted in adults with a heavy pattern of lifetime use. This study presents evidence suggesting structural brain and cognitive effects of just one or two instances of cannabis use in adolescence. Converging evidence suggests a role for the endocannabinoid system in these effects. This research is particularly timely as the legal status of cannabis is changing in many jurisdictions and the perceived risk by youth associated with smoking cannabis has declined in recent years.

KEYWORDS:

adolescent substance use; cannabis; cognition; marijuana; psychopathology; voxel-based morphometry

PMID:
30643026
PMCID:
PMC6407302
[Available on 2019-09-06]
DOI:
10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3375-17.2018

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