Amy C. Janes1, Blaise deB Frederick1, Sarah Richardt1, Caitlin Burbridge1, Emilio Merlo-Pich2, Perry F. Renshaw1, A. Eden Evins3, Maurizio Fava3, Marc J. Kaufman1
1Brain Imaging Center, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA, USA; 2Psychiatry-CEDD, GlaxoSmithKline, Verona, Italy; 3Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA
Nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) reduce smoking withdrawal symptoms but not cue-induced craving. We used blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) functional MRI (fMRI) to characterize brain responses to smoking-related cues prior to and during NRT-maintained abstinence. BOLD response patterns were comparable to previously reported findings in smoking-cue fMRI studies but anatomical distributions differed based on smoking status. Nigrostriatal activation was greater in smokers in the abstinent versus pre-abstinent state. Since in abstinence, this circuit participates in drug seeking reinstatement, our findings suggest that treatments that modulate nigrostriatal activity may reduce cue-induced brain activations and craving, and may improve smoking cessation outcomes.