Functional Neurocircuits and Neuroimaging Biomarkers of Tobacco Use Disorder

Sutherland MT, Stein EA, Trends Mol Med 24 (2) :129-143 (2018).


Drug abuse and addiction remain major public health issues, exemplified by the opioid epidemic currently devastating the United States. Treatment outcomes across substance use disorders remain unacceptably poor, wherein drug discovery/development for this multifaceted neuropsychiatric disorder focuses on single molecular-level targets. Rather, our opinion is that a systems-level neuroimaging perspective is crucial for identifying novel therapeutic targets, biomarkers to stratify patients, and individualized treatment strategies. Focusing on tobacco use disorder, we advocate a brain systems-level perspective linking two abuse-related facets (i.e., statelike withdrawal and traitlike addiction severity) with specific neurocircuitry (insula- and striatum-centered networks). To the extent that precise neurocircuits mediate distinct facets of abuse, treatment development must adopt not only a systems-level perspective, but also multi-intervention rather than mono-intervention practices.