Florian Schubert1, Simone Khn2, Ralf Mekle1, Jrgen Gallinat3, Bernd Ittermann1
1Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt, Berlin, Germany; 2MPI for Human Development, Berlin, Germany; 3Charite University Medicine, Berlin, Germany
Nicotine initiates synaptic and cellular changes which may lead to structural brain alterations. We measured the amygdala volume of 25 smokers, 25 ex-smokers and 26 never-smokers using high-resolution T1-weighted MR imaging at 3T and Freesurfer volumetry, and explored the results for relationships with respect to smoking behavior. The amygdala (both sides) was significantly larger in never-smokers than in ex-smokers and smokers. The total amygdala volume was significantly reduced with increasing number of pack years. These results indicate a possible loss of amygdala volume in subjects with a smoking history and point to a structural involvement of the amygdala in addiction.