DOI: 10.3390/bs14030231 ISSN: 2076-328X

Neurite Orientation Dispersion and Density Imaging (NODDI) of Brain Microstructure in Adolescent Cannabis and Nicotine Use

Alexander L Wallace, Kelly E. Courtney, Natasha E. Wade, Laura E. Hatz, Rachel Baca, Aaron Jacobson, Thomas T. Liu, Joanna Jacobus
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • General Psychology
  • Genetics
  • Development
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Introduction: Despite evidence suggesting deleterious effects of cannabis and nicotine tobacco product (NTP) use on white matter integrity, there have been limited studies examining white matter integrity among users of both cannabis and nicotine. Further, updated white matter methodology provides opportunities to investigate use patterns on neurite orientation dispersion and density (NODDI) indices and subtle tissue changes related to the intra- and extra-neurite compartment. We aimed to investigate how cannabis and NTP use among adolescents and young adults interacts to impact the white matter integrity microstructure. Materials and Methods: A total of 221 participants between the ages of 16 and 22 completed the Customary Drinking and Drug Use Record (CDDR) to measure substance use, and underwent a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) session. Participants were divided into NTP-control and NTP groupings and cannabis-control and cannabis groupings (≥26 NTP/cannabis uses in past 6 months). Tract-Based Spatial Statistics (TBSS) and two-way between-subjects ANOVA investigated the effects of NTP use group, cannabis use group, and their interaction on fractional anisotropy (FA) and NODDI indices while controlling for age and biological sex. Results: NTP use was associated with decreased FA values and increased orientation dispersion in the left anterior capsule. There were no significant effects of cannabis use or the interaction of NTP and cannabis use on white matter outcomes. Discussion: NTP use was associated with altered white matter integrity in an adolescent and young adult sample. Findings suggest that NTP-associated alterations may be linked to altered fiber tract geometry and dispersed neurite structures versus myelination, as well as differential effects of NTP and cannabis use on white matter structure. Future work is needed to investigate how altered white matter is related to downstream behavioral effects from NTP use.

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