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Sex differences in the brain's dopamine signature of cigarette smoking.


ABSTRACT: Cigarette smoking is a major public health danger. Women and men smoke for different reasons and cessation treatments, such as the nicotine patch, are preferentially beneficial to men. The biological substrates of these sex differences are unknown. Earlier PET studies reported conflicting findings but were each hampered by experimental and/or analytical limitations. Our new image analysis technique, lp-ntPET (Normandin et al., 2012; Morris et al., 2013; Kim et al., 2014), has been optimized for capturing brief (lasting only minutes) and highly localized dopaminergic events in dynamic PET data. We coupled our analysis technique with high-resolution brain scanning and high-frequency motion correction to create the optimal experiment for capturing and characterizing the effects of smoking on the mesolimbic dopamine system in humans. Our main finding is that male smokers smoking in the PET scanner activate dopamine in the right ventral striatum during smoking but female smokers do not. This finding-men activating more ventrally than women-is consistent with the established notion that men smoke for the reinforcing drug effect of cigarettes whereas women smoke for other reasons, such as mood regulation and cue reactivity. lp-ntPET analysis produces a novel multidimensional endpoint: voxel-level temporal patterns of neurotransmitter release ("DA movies") in individual subjects. By examining these endpoints quantitatively, we demonstrate that the timing of dopaminergic responses to cigarette smoking differs between men and women. Men respond consistently and rapidly in the ventral striatum whereas women respond faster in a discrete subregion of the dorsal putamen.

SUBMITTER: Cosgrove KP 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC4261105 | BioStudies | 2014-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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