Altered regional blood volume in chronic cannabis smokers

Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2006 Nov;14(4):422-8. doi: 10.1037/1064-1297.14.4.422.


The quantitative measurement of cerebral perfusion is crucial for the study of both normal and impaired human brain function. Although cannabis is the most commonly abused illicit substance in the United States, its effects on cerebral blood volume (CBV) have not been fully examined. The objective of the present study was to examine differences in relative regional blood volume in focal regions of interest--including the frontal lobe, the temporal lobe, and the cerebellum--during a period of supervised abstinence from cannabis. Dynamic susceptibility contrast MRI data were collected on 12 current, long-term daily cannabis users between 6 and 36 hr after the subjects' last reported cannabis use. Resting-state CBV images were also acquired in 17 healthy comparison subjects. Data were acquired in the axial plane with a 1.5-Tesla GE Signa scanner following a bolus of gadolinium contrast agent. Cannabis users demonstrated significantly increased blood volumes in the right frontal area (p < .05), in the left temporal area (p < .005), and in the cerebellum (p < .005) relative to comparison subjects. Among the cannabis users, there were no significant correlations between regional blood volumes and either total lifetime episodes of smoking or urinary tetrahydrocannabinol concentrations. These findings have important implications for understanding the effects of chronic heavy cannabis use on brain function. It would be of interest to extend the investigation beyond 6-36 hr of abstinence from cannabis to determine whether increased CBV values persist for several weeks or eventually normalize.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Volume / drug effects*
  • Cerebellum / blood supply
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / drug effects*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / blood supply
  • Frontal Lobe / drug effects
  • Functional Laterality / drug effects
  • Gadolinium
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Marijuana Smoking / physiopathology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Regional Blood Flow / drug effects
  • Regression Analysis
  • Temporal Lobe / blood supply
  • Temporal Lobe / drug effects


  • Gadolinium