Brain morphology of cannabis users with or without psychosis: A pilot mri study

Giuseppe Delvecchio, Lucio Oldani, Gian Mario Mandolini, Alessandro Pigoni, Valentina Ciappolino, Giandomenico Schiena, Matteo Lazzaretti, Elisabetta Caletti, Viviana Barbieri, Claudia Cinnante, Fabio Triulzi, Paolo Brambilla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cannabis is the illicit drug most commonly used worldwide, and its consumption can both induce psychiatric symptoms in otherwise healthy subjects and unmask a florid psychotic picture in patients with a prior psychotic risk. Previous studies suggest that chronic and long-term cannabis exposure may exert significant negative effects in brain areas enriched with cannabinoid receptors. However, whether brain alterations determined by cannabis dependency will lead to a clinically significant phenotype or to a psychotic outbreak at some point of an abuser’s life remains unclear. The aim of this study was to investigate morphological brain differences between chronic cannabis users with cannabis-induced psychosis (CIP) and non-psychotic cannabis users (NPCU) without any psychiatric conditions and correlate brain deficits with selective socio-demographic, clinical and psychosocial variables. 3T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of 10 CIP patients and 12 NPCU were acquired. The type of drug, the frequency, and the duration, as well socio-demographic, clinical and psychosocial parameters of dependency were measured. CIP patients had extensive grey matter (GM) decreases in right superior frontal gyrus, right precentral, right superior temporal gyrus, insula bilaterally, right precuneus, right medial occipital gyrus, right fusiform gyrus, and left hippocampus in comparison to chronic cannabis users without psychosis. Finally, in CIP patients, the results showed a negative correlation between a domain of the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS), BPRS-Activity, and selective GM volumes. Overall, the results suggest that cannabis-induced psychosis is characterized by selective brain reductions that are not present in NPCU. Therefore, neuroimaging studies may provide a potential ground for identifying putative biomarkers associated with the risk of developing psychosis in cannabis users.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere60881
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number162
Publication statusPublished - 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Brain morphology of cannabis users with or without psychosis: A pilot mri study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this