Mapping cortical and subcortical asymmetries in substance dependence: Findings from the ENIGMA Addiction Working Group

Zhipeng Cao*, Jonatan Ottino-Gonzalez, Renata B. Cupertino, Nathan Schwab, Colin Hoke, Orr Catherine, Janna Cousijn, Alain Dagher, John J. Foxe, Anna E. Goudriaan, Robert Hester, Kent Hutchison, Chiang Shan R. Li, Edythe D. London, Valentina Lorenzetti, Maartje Luijten, Rocio Martin-Santos, Reza Momenan, Martin P. Paulus, Lianne SchmaalRajita Sinha, Zsuzsika Sjoerds, Nadia Solowij, Dan J. Stein, Elliot A. Stein, Anne Uhlmann, Ruth J. van Holst, Dick J. Veltman, Reinout W. Wiers, Murat Yücel, Sheng Zhang, Neda Jahanshad, Paul M. Thompson, Patricia Conrod, Scott Mackey, Hugh Garavan

*Corresponding author for this work

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Brain asymmetry reflects left-right hemispheric differentiation, which is a quantitative brain phenotype that develops with age and can vary with psychiatric diagnoses. Previous studies have shown that substance dependence is associated with altered brain structure and function. However, it is unknown whether structural brain asymmetries are different in individuals with substance dependence compared with nondependent participants. Here, a mega-analysis was performed using a collection of 22 structural brain MRI datasets from the ENIGMA Addiction Working Group. Structural asymmetries of cortical and subcortical regions were compared between individuals who were dependent on alcohol, nicotine, cocaine, methamphetamine, or cannabis (n = 1,796) and nondependent participants (n = 996). Substance-general and substance-specific effects on structural asymmetry were examined using separate models. We found that substance dependence was significantly associated with differences in volume asymmetry of the nucleus accumbens (NAcc; less rightward; Cohen's d = 0.15). This effect was driven by differences from controls in individuals with alcohol dependence (less rightward; Cohen's d = 0.10) and nicotine dependence (less rightward; Cohen's d = 0.11). These findings suggest that disrupted structural asymmetry in the NAcc may be a characteristic of substance dependence.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13010
JournalAddiction Biology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021

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