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Reversible brain white matter microstructure changes in heroin addicts: a longitudinal study


Wei Hao, Mental Health Institute of the Second Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, Renming Road 139, Gangsha City, Hunan Province, 410011, China. E-mail:


Previous neuroimaging studies have documented the structural damage in heroin addicts. However, little research has detailed the white matter microstructural changes in the human brain as a result of chronic heroin use and importantly, whether such changes can be recovered after short-term abstinence. Decreased fractional anisotropy values in frontal cortex were found in heroin users after 3 days of abstinence in comparison with controls. However, no significant difference was found between these heroin addicts and controls after 1-month abstinence. These results might better our understanding of the biological basis of drug addiction and provide insight into addiction treatment.