Home > Sex differences in substance use disorders: a neurobiological perspective.

Cornish, Jennifer L and Prasad, Asheeta A (2021) Sex differences in substance use disorders: a neurobiological perspective. Frontiers in Global Women's Health, 2, p. 778514. doi: 10.3389/fgwh.2021.778514.

External website: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC86922...

Clinical studies provide fundamental knowledge of substance use behaviors (substance of abuse, patterns of use, relapse rates). The combination of neuroimaging approaches reveal correlation between substance use disorder (SUD) and changes in neural structure, function, and neurotransmission. Here, we review these advances, placing special emphasis on sex specific findings from structural neuroimaging studies of those dependent on alcohol, nicotine, cannabis, psychostimulants, or opioids. Recent clinical studies in SUD analyzing sex differences reveal neurobiological changes that are differentially impacted in common reward processing regions such as the striatum, hippocampus, amygdala, insula, and corpus collosum.

We reflect on the contribution of sex hormones, period of drug use and abstinence, and the potential impact of these factors on the interpretation of the reported findings. With the overall recognition that SUD impacts the brains of females and males differentially, it is of fundamental importance that future research is designed with sex as a variable of study in this field. Improved understanding of neurobiological changes in males and females in SUD will advance knowledge underlying sex-specific susceptibility and the neurobiological impact in these disorders. Together these findings will inform future treatments that are tailor designed for improved efficacy in females and males with SUD.

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