Chronic cannabis use alters dACC-striatal glutamatergic balance

doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2023.173544.

Online ahead of print.


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Chun S Zuo et al.

Pharmacol Biochem Behav.



Prefrontal and striatal glutamate plays an important role in modulating striatal dopamine levels and an imbalance in regional glutamate has been identified in several psychiatric conditions. We hypothesized that this imbalance also exists in cannabis use disorder (CUD). We recently quantified the difference in regional glutamate of dorsal anterior cingulate (dACC) and striatum regions in the frontostriatal pathway using proton MRS at baseline and on verified abstinent days 7 and 21 in chronic users of cannabis (n = 20) in comparison with age- and sex- matched non-using controls (n = 10). In addition, the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale-11 (BIS) was collected as a measure of inhibitory impulse control of the participants. We found that the difference in glutamate concentrations between the dACC and striatum (ΔdACC-strGlu) of the controls was significantly higher than that of cannabis users across the study timeline (F(1,28) = 18.32, p < 0.0005). The group difference was not affected by age, sex, or alcohol/cigarette consumption. On abstinent day 7, ΔdACC-strGlu was significantly correlated with the corresponding ΔdACC-strGABA among the users (r = 0.837, p < 0.00001). On day 21, ΔdACC-strGlu was negatively associated with monthly cannabis use days (Spearman’s rho = -0.444, p = 0.05). Self-reported BIS and its subscales were significantly altered among the users compared to the controls across the study timeline (total F(1,28) = 7.0, p = 0.013; non-planning F(1,28) = 16.1, p < 0.0005; motor F(1,28) = 5.9, p = 0.022; cognitive F(1,28) = 6.1, p = 0.019). These data provide preliminary evidence that chronic cannabis use may lead to a dACC-striatal glutamate imbalance in conjunction with poor impulse control.


Cannabis; Glutamatergic imbalance; dACC-striatal.

Conflict of interest statement

Declaration of competing interest None.

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