White matter integrity alternations associated with cocaine dependence and long-term abstinence: Preliminary findings
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Cocaine dependence has been associated with deficits in white matter (WM) integrity. Nevertheless, what happens to WM integrity after long-term abstinence is not fully understood. To bridge this gap, changes in WM integrity were examined with diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) applied to 39 participants: 12 participants who used cocaine in the last year (CURRENT USERS), 20 who were at different stages of cocaine abstinence (ABSTINENCE) [five with 1-5 years of abstinence (ABS1), five with 6-10 years of abstinence (ABS2), and 10 with over 10 years of abstinence (ABS3)], and 7 healthy controls (CONTROLS). The CONTROL group had higher fractional anisotropy (FA) compared to CURRENT USERS in frontal cortex tracts, including the bilateral corpus callosum, bilateral superior longitudinal fasciculus, bilateral inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus, left internal capsule, left middle cingulum, and left ventral and dorsal medial frontal regions. The ABSTINENCE group also had higher FA compared to CURRENT USERS in frontal cortex tracts, such as the bilateral corpus callosum, bilateral superior longitudinal fasciculus, left inferior longitudinal fasciculus, left uncinate fasciculus, left inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus, and the left ventral and dorsal medial frontal regions. Tractography analysis showed (1) deficits in terms of number of fibers and fiber length in these regions, and that (2) while there was some recovery of white matter in dorsolateral regions during abstinence, duration of abstinence was not associated with such recovery. The results identified WM differences among cocaine users, cocaine abstinent participants, and controls. These preliminary findings point to WM tracts that recover, and some that do not, after long-term abstinence from cocaine.
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