Gray matter volume showed dynamic alterations in methamphetamine users at 6 and 12 months abstinence: A longitudinal voxel-based morphometry study

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Previous studies have demonstrated brain gray matter reduction in methamphetamine (MA) users; however, little is known about longitudinal brain structural alternations during abstinence.


Brain volumes were compared among 30 MA-dependent patients (average 6.3 years of drug use) at 6 months' abstinence and 27 drug-naïve controls by voxel-based morphometry. A longitudinal analysis of MA subjects was performed from 6 to 12 months' abstinence, and multiple regression analyses were performed between drug use patterns and gray matter volumes (GMV) at 6 months' abstinence.


Compared with drug-naïve subjects, subjects with 6 months' abstinent of MA showed significantly lower GMV in the precentral gyrus, caudate head, fusiform gyrus, and cerebellum. Compared to 6 months' abstinence, GMV was greater in the cerebellum and lower in the cingulate gyrus at 12 months' abstinence. Accumulated years of MA use negatively correlated with GMV in the right superior frontal gyrus, the right superior temporal cortex, and the right caudate nucleus (significant at the whole brain level, p < 0.001; FWE cluster-corrected p < 0.05).


The present study suggested that heavy MA users' GMV could show dynamic alterations in different brain regions at different time lengths of abstinence.

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