Cigarette smoking and cerebral blood flow in a cohort of middle-aged adults

Martine Elbejjani, Reto Auer, Sudipto Dolui, David R. Jacobs, Thaddeus Haight, David C. Goff, John A. Detre, Christos Davatzikos, R. Nick Bryan, Lenore J. Launer

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Cigarette smoking is often associated with dementia. This association is thought to be mediated by hypoperfusion; however, how smoking behavior relates to cerebral blood flow (CBF) remains unclear. Using data from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) cohort (mean age = 50; n = 522), we examined the association between smoking behavior (status, cumulative pack-years, age at smoking initiation, and years since cessation) and CBF (arterial spin labeling) in brain lobes and regions linked to dementia. We used adjusted linear regression models and tested whether associations differed between current and former-smokers. Compared to never-smokers, former-smokers had lower CBF in the parietal and occipital lobes, cuneus, precuneus, putamen, and insula; in contrast, current-smokers did not have lower CBF. The relationship between pack-years and CBF was different between current and former-smokers (p for interaction < 0.05): Among current-smokers, higher pack-years were associated with higher occipital, temporal, cuneus, putamen, insula, hippocampus, and caudate CBF; former-smokers had lower caudate CBF with increasing pack-years. Results show links between smoking and CBF at middle-age in regions implicated in cognitive and compulsive/addictive processes. Differences between current and former smoking suggest that distinct pathological and/or compensatory mechanisms may be involved depending on the timing and history of smoking exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1247-1257
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019


  • Cigarette smoking
  • cerebral blood flow
  • cohort
  • middle-age
  • pack-years

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

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    Elbejjani, M., Auer, R., Dolui, S., Jacobs, D. R., Haight, T., Goff, D. C., Detre, J. A., Davatzikos, C., Bryan, R. N., & Launer, L. J. (2019). Cigarette smoking and cerebral blood flow in a cohort of middle-aged adults. Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism, 39(7), 1247-1257.