White-matter abnormalities in adolescents with long-term inhalant and cannabis use: a diffusion magnetic resonance imaging study

White-matter abnormalities in adolescents with long-term inhalant and cannabis use: a diffusion magnetic resonance imaging study


J Psychiatry Neurosci 2012;35(6):409-12

Murat Yücel, PhD, MAPS; Andrew Zalesky, PhD; Michael J. Takagi, PhD; Emre Bora, PhD;Alex Fornito, PhD; Michael Ditchfield, MD; Gary F. Egan, PhD; Christos Pantelis, MD; Dan I. Lubman, PhD

Yücel, Takagi, Bora, Lubman — Orygen Youth Health Research Centre, Centre for Youth Mental Health, The University of Melbourne; Yücel, Zalesky, Takagi, Fornito, Pantelis — Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre, Department of Psychiatry, The University of Melbourne and Melbourne Health; Ditchfield — Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Royal Melbourne Hospital; Egan — Florey Neuroscience Institutes and the Centre for Neuroscience, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne; Lubman — Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre, Eastern Health Clinical School, Monash University, Fitzroy, Australia


Background: There is growing evidence that inhalants are neurotoxic to white matter, yet limited work has been conducted to investigate the neurobiologic effects of long-term exposure among adolescent users, despite inhalant use being most prominent during this developmental period.

Methods: We used diffusion tensor imaging to examine white-matter integrity in 11 adolescents who used inhalants, 11 matched cannabis users and 8 drug-naive controls.

Results: Although both groups of drug users had white-matter abnormalities (i.e., lower fractional anisotropy), abnormalities were more pronounced in the inhalant group, particularly among early-onset users.

Limitations: The findings of this study should be considered in light of its small sample size, cross-sectional design and the complex psychosocial background of long-term inhalant users.

Conclusion: White-matter abnormalities may underpin long-term behavioural and mental health problems seen in individuals with long-term inhalant use.

Submitted Dec. 3, 2010; Revised Apr. 5, May 13, 2010; Accepted May 19, 2010.

Acknowledgments: Dr. Yücel is supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Clinical Career Development Award (ID 509345). Dr. Zalesky is supported by an Australian Research Council research fellowship (ID DP0986320). Dr. Fornito is supported by an NHMRC C.J. Martin Fellowship (ID 454797). Dr. Lubman is supported by the Colonial Foundation

Competing interests: None declared.

Contributors: Drs. Yücel, Pantelis and Lubman designed the study. Drs. Yücel, Takagi, Fornito, Ditchfield and Pantelis acquired the data. Drs. Yücel, Zalesky, Takagi, Bora, Fornito, Egan and Lubman analyzed the data. Drs. Yücel, Zalesky, Takagi, Fornito and Lubman wrote the article. All authors reviewed the article and approved its publication.

DOI: 10.1503/jpn.090177

Correspondence to: Dr. M. Yücel, Orygen Youth Health Research Centre, 35 Poplar Rd., Parkville, Victoria 3052, Australia; murat@unimelb.edu.au