Structural indices of brain aging in methamphetamine use disorder

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review


  • Johannes Petzold - , Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of California at Los Angeles (Author)
  • Jean-Baptiste F Pochon - , University of California at Los Angeles (Author)
  • Dara G Ghahremani - , University of California at Los Angeles (Author)
  • Edythe D London - , University of California at Los Angeles (Author)


BACKGROUND: Methamphetamine use is surging globally. It has been linked to premature stroke, Parkinsonism, and dementia, suggesting that it may accelerate brain aging.

METHODS: We performed a retrospective study to determine if structural indices of brain aging were more prevalent prior to old age (26 - 54 years) in individuals with Methamphetamine Use Disorder (MUD), who were in early abstinence (M ± SD = 22.1 ± 25.6 days) than in healthy control (HC) participants. We compared T1-weighted MRI brain scans in age- and sex-matched groups (n = 89/group) on three structural features of brain aging: the brain volume/cerebrospinal fluid (BV/CSF) index, volume of white matter hypointensities/lesions, and choroid plexus volume.

RESULTS: The MUD group had a lower mean BV/CSF index and larger volumes of white matter hypointensities and choroid plexus (p-values < 0.01). Regression analyses showed significant age-by-group effects, indicating different age trajectories of the BV/CSF index and choroid plexus volume, consistent with abnormal global brain atrophy and choroid plexus pathology in the MUD group. Significant age and group main effects reflected a larger volume of white matter hypointensities for older participants across groups and for the MUD group irrespective of age. None of the three measures of brain aging correlated significantly with recent use or duration of recent abstinence from methamphetamine.

CONCLUSIONS: Premature brain pathology, which may reflect cerebrovascular damage and dysfunction of the choroid plexus, occurs in people with MUD. Such pathology may affect cognition and thereby efficacy of behavioral treatments for MUD.


Original languageEnglish
Article number111107
JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
Early online date23 Jan 2024
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2024

External IDs

ORCID /0000-0003-4163-9014/work/153109848
Scopus 85184572108



  • Brain/diagnostic imaging, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Humans, Middle Aged, Aging, Adult, Retrospective Studies, Methamphetamine/adverse effects