Functional network connectivity predicts treatment outcome during treatment of nicotine use disorder

Psychiatry Res Neuroimaging. 2017 Jul 30;265:45-53. doi: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2017.04.011. Epub 2017 Apr 30.


Altered resting state functional connectivity (rsFC) and functional network connectivity (FNC), which is a measure of coherence between brain networks, may be associated with nicotine use disorder (NUD). We hypothesized that higher connectivity between insula and 1) dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) and 2) dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) would predict better treatment outcomes. We also performed an exploratory analysis of the associations between FNC values between additional key frontal and striatal regions and treatment outcomes. One hundred and forty four individuals with NUD underwent a resting state session during functional MRI prior to randomization to treatment with varenicline (n=82) or placebo. Group independent component analysis (ICA) was utilized to extract individual subject components and time series from intrinsic connectivity networks in aforementioned regions, and FNC between all possible pairs were calculated. Higher FNC between insula and dACC (rho=0.21) was significantly correlated with lower levels of baseline smoking quantity but did not predict treatment outcome upon controlling for baseline smoking. Higher FNC between putamen and dACC, caudate and dACC, and caudate and dlPFC significantly predicted worse treatment outcome in participants reporting high subjective withdrawal before the scan. FNC between key regions hold promise as biomarkers to predict outcome in NUD.

Keywords: Functional network connectivity; Nicotine dependence; Prediction; Resting state; Treatment; Treatment outcome.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Corpus Striatum / diagnostic imaging
  • Corpus Striatum / drug effects
  • Corpus Striatum / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Gyrus Cinguli / diagnostic imaging
  • Gyrus Cinguli / drug effects
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Net / drug effects*
  • Nerve Net / physiopathology
  • Nicotinic Agonists / therapeutic use
  • Smoking / physiopathology
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / diagnostic imaging
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / physiopathology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Varenicline / therapeutic use*


  • Nicotinic Agonists
  • Varenicline