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    Research News Roundup: March 21, 2024

    Neural Correlates of the Addictions Neuroclinical Assessment (ANA) Incentive Salience Factor Among Individuals with Alcohol Use Disorder

    Journal: Behavioural Brain Research, 2024, doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2024.114926

    Authors: Steven J. Nieto, Erica N. Grodin, & Lara A. Ray


    The Addictions Neuroclinical Assessment (ANA) is a recently-developed framework offering a more holistic understanding of three neurofunctional and behavioral domains that reflect the neurobiological dysfunction seen in alcohol use disorder (AUD). While the ANA domains have been well-validated across independent laboratories, there is a critical need to identify neural markers that subserve the proposed neurofunctional domains. The current study involves secondary data analysis of a two-week experimental medication trial of ibudilast (50 mg BID). Forty-five non-treatment-seeking participants with AUD (17F / 28 M) completed a battery of validated behavioral assessments forming the basis of their incentive salience factor score, computed via factor analysis, as well as a functional neuroimaging (fMRI) task assessing their neural reactivity to visual alcohol cues after being on placebo or ibudilast for 7 days. General linear models were conducted to examine the relationship between incentive salience and neural alcohol cue-reactivity in the ventral and dorsal stratum. Whole-brain generalized linear model analyses were conducted to examine associations between neural alcohol cue-reactivity and incentive salience. Age, sex, medication, and smoking status were included as covariates. Incentive salience was not associated with cue-elicited activation in the dorsal or ventral striatum. Incentive salience was significantly positively correlated (p < 0.05) with alcohol cue-elicited brain activation in reward-learning and affective regions including the insula and posterior cingulate cortices, bilateral precuneus, and bilateral precentral gyri. The ANA incentive salience factor is reflected in brain circuitry important for reward learning and emotion processing. Identifying a sub-phenotype of AUD characterized by increased incentive salience to alcohol cues allows for precision medicine approaches, i.e. treatments specifically targeting craving and reward from alcohol use. This study serves as a preliminary bio-behavioral validation for the incentive salience factor of the ANA. Further studies validating the neural correlates of other ANA factors, as well as replication in larger samples, appear warranted.

    To read the full text of the article, please visit the publisher’s website.

    Effects of a Social Media Intervention on Vaping Intentions: Randomized Dose-Response Experiment

    Journal: Journal of Medical Internet Research, 2024, doi: 10.2196/50741

    Authors: William Douglas Evans, Jeffrey Bingenheimer, Jennifer Cantrell, Jennifer Kreslake, Shreya Tulsiani, Megumi Ichimiya, Alexander P. D’Esterre, … Elizabeth C. Hair


    Background: e-Cigarette use, especially by young adults, is at unacceptably high levels and represents a public health risk factor. Digital media are increasingly being used to deliver antivaping campaigns, but little is known about their effectiveness or the dose-response effects of content delivery.

    Objective: The objectives of this study were to evaluate (1) the effectiveness of a 60-day antivaping social media intervention in changing vaping use intentions and beliefs related to the stimulus content and (2) the dose-response effects of varying levels of exposure to the intervention on vaping outcomes, including anti-industry beliefs, vaping intentions, and other attitudes and beliefs related to vaping.

    Methods: Participants were adults aged 18 to 24 years in the United States. They were recruited into the study through Facebook (Meta Platforms) and Instagram (Meta Platforms), completed a baseline survey, and then randomized to 1 of the 5 conditions: 0 (control), 4, 8, 16, and 32 exposures over a 15-day period between each survey wave. Follow-up data were collected 30 and 60 days after randomization. We conducted stratified analyses of the full sample and in subsamples defined by the baseline vaping status (never, former, and current). Stimulus was delivered through Facebook and Instagram in four 15-second social media videos focused on anti-industry beliefs about vaping. The main outcome measures reported in this study were self-reported exposure to social media intervention content, attitudes and beliefs about vaping, and vaping intentions. We estimated a series of multivariate linear regressions in Stata 17 (StataCorp). To capture the dose-response effect, we assigned each study arm a numerical value corresponding to the number of advertisements (exposures) delivered to participants in each arm and used this number as our focal independent variable. In each model, the predictor was the treatment arm to which each participant was assigned.

    Results: The baseline sample consisted of 1491 participants, and the final analysis sample consisted of 57.28% (854/1491) of the participants retained at the 60-day follow-up. We compared the retained participants with those lost to follow-up and found no statistically significant differences across demographic variables. We found a significant effect of the social media treatment on vaping intentions (β=-0.138, 95% CI -0.266 to -0.010; P=.04) and anti-industry beliefs (β=-0.122, 95% CI 0.008-0.237; P=.04) targeted by the intervention content among current vapers but not among the full sample or other strata. We found no significant effects of self-reported exposure to the stimulus.

    Conclusions: Social media interventions are a promising approach to preventing vaping among young adults. More research is needed on how to optimize the dosage of such interventions and the extent to which long-term exposure may affect vaping use over time.

    To read the full text of the article, please visit the publisher’s website.

    Genome-Wide Analyses Reveal Shared Genetic Architecture and Novel Risk Loci Between Opioid Use Disorder and General Cognitive Ability

    Journal: Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 2024, doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2023.111058

    Authors: Børge Holen, Gleda Kutrolli, Alexey A. Shadrin, Romain Icick, Guy Hindley, Linn Rødevand, Kevin S. O’Connell, … Olav B. Smeland


    Background: Opioid use disorder (OUD), a serious health burden worldwide, is associated with lower cognitive function. Recent studies have demonstrated a negative genetic correlation between OUD and general cognitive ability (COG), indicating a shared genetic basis. However, the specific genetic variants involved, and the underlying molecular mechanisms remain poorly understood. Here, we aimed to quantify and identify the genetic basis underlying OUD and COG.

    Methods: We quantified the extent of genetic overlap between OUD and COG using a bivariate causal mixture model (MiXeR) and identified specific genetic loci applying conditional / conjunctional FDR. Finally, we investigated biological function and expression of implicated genes using available resources.

    Results: We estimated that ~94% of OUD variants (4.8k out of 5.1k variants) also influence COG. We identified three novel OUD risk loci and one locus shared between OUD and COG. Loci identified implicated biological substrates in the basal ganglia.

    Conclusion: We provide new insights into the complex genetic risk architecture of OUD and its genetic relationship with COG.

    To read the full text of the article, please visit the publisher’s website.

    Economic Evaluations of Establishing Opioid Overdose Prevention Centers In 12 North American Cities: A Systematic Review

    Journal: Value in Health, 2024, doi: 10.1016/j.jval.2024.02.004

    Authors: Czarina N. Behrends, Jared A. Leff, Weston Lowry, Jazmine M. Li, Erica N. Onuoha, Erminia Fardone, Ahmed M. Bayoumi, … Bruce R. Schackman


    Objectives: Overdose prevention centers (OPCs) provide a safe place where people can consume pre-obtained drugs under supervision so that a life-saving medical response can be provided quickly in the event of an overdose. OPCs are programs that are established in Canada and have recently become legally sanctioned in only a few United States jurisdictions.

    Methods: We conducted a systematic review that summarizes and identifies gaps of economic evidence on establishing OPCs in North America to guide future expansion of OPCs.

    Results: We included 16 final studies that were evaluated with the CHEERS and Drummond checklists. Eight studies reported cost-effectiveness results (e.g., cost per overdose avoided or cost per QALY), with six also including cost-benefit; five reported only cost-benefit results, and three cost-offsets. Health outcomes primarily included overdose mortality outcomes and/or HIV/HCV infections averted. Most studies used mathematical modeling and projected OPC outcomes using the experience of a single facility in Vancouver, BC.

    Conclusions: OPCs were found to be cost-saving, or to have favorable cost-effectiveness or cost-benefit ratios across all studies. Future studies should incorporate the experience of OPCs established in various settings and employ a greater diversity of modeling designs.

    To read the full text of the article, please visit the publisher’s website.

    Trajectories of Alcohol And Cannabis Use among Emerging Adults with a History of Unstable Housing: Associations with Functioning over a Two-Year Period

    Journal: Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 2024, doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2024.111117

    Authors: Joan S. Tucker, Anthony Rodriguez, Elizabeth J. D’Amico, Eric R. Pedersen, Rupa Jose, & David J. Klein


    Introduction: Research has documented high rates of alcohol and cannabis use among emerging adults experiencing homelessness. However, little is known about trajectories of use over time or how trajectories are associated with functioning (e.g., risk behaviors, mental and physical health, social functioning, economic well-being).

    Methods: Data come from a cohort of 18-25 year olds experiencing homelessness who were surveyed 5 times over 24 months. Parallel process growth mixture models were used to model heterogeneity in alcohol and cannabis use across the 5 timepoints, which allowed for the extraction of classes based on both alcohol and cannabis use trajectories. Classes were compared on demographics and functioning at baseline and 24-months.

    Results: Two trajectory classes of alcohol and cannabis use emerged: moderate decreasing cannabis and low stable alcohol use (75% of the sample) and heavy cannabis and alcohol use (25% of the sample). The heavy cannabis and alcohol use class reported a significantly higher likelihood for any non-cannabis drug use at baseline and 24-months, as well as greater depression and physical ailments at 24-months. In addition, at 24-months this class had a marginally higher likelihood of a positive screen for at least moderate anxiety and being recently unhoused.

    Conclusions: The effects of heavy continued cannabis and alcohol co-use on multiple domains of functioning (e.g., risk behavior, mental and physical health) highlight the importance of a coordinated systems approach that addresses the often complex and interrelated challenges facing emerging adults with a history of homelessness.

    To read the full text of the article, please visit the publisher’s website.


    March 2024