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Association of cannabis with glutamatergic levels in patients with early psychosis: Evidence for Altered Volume Striatal Glutamate Relationships in patients with a history of cannabis use in Early Psychosis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
JournalTranslational psychiatry
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020

King's Authors


The associative striatum, an established substrate in psychosis, receives widespread glutamatergic projections. We sought to see if glutamatergic indices are altered between early psychosis patients with and without a history of cannabis use and characterize the relationship to grey matter. 92 participants were scanned: Early Psychosis with a history of cannabis use (EPC=29); Early Psychosis with minimal cannabis use (EPMC=25); Controls with a history of cannabis use (HCC=16) and Controls with minimal use (HCMC=22). Whole brain T1 weighted MR images and localized proton MR spectra were acquired from head of caudate, anterior cingulate and hippocampus. We examined relationships in regions with known high cannabinoid 1 receptor (CB1R) expression (grey matter, cortex, hippocampus, amygdala) and low expression (white matter, ventricles, brainstem) to caudate Glutamine+Glutamate (Glx). Patients were well matched in symptoms, function and medication. There was no significant group difference in Glx in any region. In EPC grey matter volume explained 31.9% of the variance of caudate Glx (p=0.003) and amygdala volume explained 36.9% (p=0.001) of caudate Glx. There was no significant relationship in EPMC. The EPC vs EPMC interaction was significant (p=0.042). There was no such relationship in control regions. These results are the first to demonstrate association of grey matter volume and striatal glutamate in the EPC group. This may suggest a history of cannabis use leads to a conformational change in distal CB1 rich grey matter regions to influence striatal glutamatergic levels or that such connectivity predisposes to heavy cannabis use.

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