Voxelwise meta-analysis of gray matter anomalies in chronic cigarette smokers

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Evidence from previous voxel-based morphometry (VBM) studies revealed that widespread brain regions are involved in chronic smoking. However, the spatial localization reported for gray matter (GM) abnormalities is heterogeneous. The aim of the present study was quantitatively to integrate studies on GM abnormalities observed in chronic smokers.


A systematic search of the PubMed, Web of Knowledge and Science Direct databases from January 1, 2000 to July 31, 2015 was performed to identify eligible whole-brain VBM studies. Comprehensive meta-analyses to investigate regional GM abnormalities in chronic smokers were conducted with the Seed-based d Mapping software package.


Eleven studies comprising 686 chronic cigarette smokers and 1024 nonsmokers were included in the meta-analyses. Consistently across studies, the chronic smokers showed a robust GM decrease in the bilateral prefrontal cortex and a GM increase in the right lingual cortex. Moreover, meta-regression demonstrated that smoking years and cigarettes per day were partly correlated with GM anomalies in chronic cigarette smokers.


The convergent findings of this quantitative meta-analysis reveal a characteristic neuroanatomical pattern in chronic smokers. Future longitudinal studies should investigate whether this brain morphometric pattern can serve as a useful target and a prognostic marker for smoking intervention.

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