Nicotine withdrawal alters neural responses to psychosocial stress.

TitleNicotine withdrawal alters neural responses to psychosocial stress.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsAshare RL, Lerman C, Cao W, Falcone M, Bernardo L, Ruparel K, Hopson R, Gur R, Pruessner JC, Loughead J
JournalPsychopharmacology (Berl)
Date Published2016 Jul

INTRODUCTION: Psychosocial stress is considered to be an important mechanism underlying smoking behavior and relapse. Thus, understanding the effects of acute nicotine withdrawal on responses to stress is important to intervene to prevent stress-induced relapse. The current study investigated the neural correlates of psychosocial stress during acute nicotine withdrawal in chronic smokers.METHODS: Thirty-nine treatment-seeking smokers were randomized to one of two conditions (abstinent 24 h (n = 21) or smoking as usual (n = 18)). They were then exposed to the Montreal Imaging Stress Task (MIST), a psychosocial stress task consisting of difficult mental arithmetic problems while receiving negative performance feedback while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).RESULTS: Subjective measures of stress increased following the MIST, compared to baseline. Whole brain between-group analysis identified significant activation clusters in four regions for the stress induction minus control contrast: inferior frontal gyrus (IFG), anterior/para cingulate cortex (ACC), precuneus, and supramarginal gyrus (SMG). In all regions, the deprived group showed significantly greater activation compared to the non-deprived group. No significant correlations were found between subjective stress and BOLD signal activation (ps > 0.07).CONCLUSIONS: This study provides new evidence that brain regions previously shown to be predictive of relapse, such as the precuneus and IFG, display heightened neural responses to stress during nicotine deprivation. These data identify the brain regions that may be associated with withdrawal-related stress responses. Increased stress-related activation during nicotine withdrawal may identify those most vulnerable to relapse and represent a target for novel pharmacological intervention.

Alternate JournalPsychopharmacology (Berl.)
PubMed ID27087432
PubMed Central IDPMC4907902
Grant ListK23 DA035295 / DA / NIDA NIH HHS / United States
P50 CA143187 / CA / NCI NIH HHS / United States
R35 CA197461 / CA / NCI NIH HHS / United States