White matter integrity differences associated with post-traumatic stress disorder are not normalized by concurrent marijuana use

Citation:

Yeh C-L, Levar N, Broos HC, Dechert A, Potter K, Evins EA, Gilman JM. White matter integrity differences associated with post-traumatic stress disorder are not normalized by concurrent marijuana use. Psychiatry Res Neuroimaging. 2020;295 :111017.

Date Published:

2020 01 30

Abstract:

Marijuana (MJ) use and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have both been associated with abnormalities in brain white matter tracts, including the cingulum and the anterior thalamic radiations (ATR), which project from subcortical regions to frontal cortex. Studies have not assessed the integrity of these tracts in patients with comorbid PTSD and MJ use. To examine effects of PTSD and MJ use on brain structure, we performed diffusion tensor imaging scans on seventy-two trauma-exposed participants, categorized into four groups: those with PTSD who used MJ at least weekly (PTSD+MJ; n = 20), those with PTSD with no regular MJ use (PTSD; n = 19), trauma-exposed controls without PTSD who used MJ (TEC+MJ; n = 14) and trauma-exposed controls with no PTSD or MJ use (TEC; n = 19). White matter integrity was evaluated by calculating fractional anisotropy (FA). Results showed that while FA values in the right ATR and the cingulum differed across groups, there were no significant interactions between PTSD and MJ in any white matter tracts, indicating that MJ exposure neither normalizes nor worsens white matter abnormalities in those with PTSD. Further study is needed to evaluate the impact of MJ use on other neurobiological markers of PTSD.