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The effects of nicotine use during adolescence and young adulthood on gray matter cerebral blood flow estimates

  • Courtney, Kelly E
  • Baca, Rachel
  • Thompson, Courtney
  • Andrade, Gianna
  • Doran, Neal
  • Jacobson, Aaron
  • Liu, Thomas T
  • Jacobus, Joanna
Publication Date
Feb 01, 2024
eScholarship - University of California
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Nicotine and tobacco product (NTP) use remains prevalent in adolescence/young adulthood. The effects of NTPs on markers of brain health during this vulnerable neurodevelopmental period remain largely unknown. This report investigates associations between NTP use and gray matter cerebral blood flow (CBF) in adolescents/young adults. Adolescent/young adult (16-22 years-old) nicotine users (NTP; N = 99; 40 women) and non-users (non-NTP; N = 95; 56 women) underwent neuroimaging sessions including anatomical and optimized pseudo-continuous arterial spin labeling scans. Groups were compared on whole-brain gray matter CBF estimates and their relation to age and sex at birth. Follow-up analyses assessed correlations between identified CBF clusters and NTP recency and dependence measures. Controlling for age and sex, the NTP vs. non-NTP contrast revealed a single cluster that survived thresholding which included portions of bilateral precuneus (voxel-wise alpha < 0.001, cluster-wise alpha < 0.05; ≥7 contiguous voxels). An interaction between NTP group contrast and age was observed in two clusters including regions of the left posterior cingulate (PCC)/lingual gyrus and right anterior cingulate cortex (ACC): non-NTP exhibited positive correlations between CBF and age in these clusters, whereas NTP exhibited negative correlations between CBF and age. Lower CBF from these three clusters correlated with urine cotinine (rs=-0.21 - - 0.16; ps < 0.04) and nicotine dependence severity (rs=-0.16 - - 0.13; ps < 0.07). This is the first investigation of gray matter CBF in adolescent/young adult users of NTPs. The results are consistent with literature on adults showing age- and nicotine-related declines in CBF and identify the precuneus/PCC and ACC as potential key regions subserving the development of nicotine dependence.

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