Structural MRI and functional connectivity features predict current clinical status and persistence behavior in prescription opioid users

Ravi D. Mill, Emily C. Winfield, Michael W. Cole, Suchismita Ray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Prescription opioid use disorder (POUD) has reached epidemic proportions in the United States, raising an urgent need for diagnostic biological tools that can improve predictions of disease characteristics. The use of neuroimaging methods to develop such biomarkers have yielded promising results when applied to neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders, yet have not been extended to prescription opioid addiction. With this long-term goal in mind, we conducted a preliminary study in this understudied clinical group. Univariate and multivariate approaches to distinguishing between POUD (n = 26) and healthy controls (n = 21) were investigated, on the basis of structural MRI (sMRI) and resting-state functional connectivity (restFC) features. Univariate approaches revealed reduced structural integrity in the subcortical extent of a previously reported addiction-related network in POUD subjects. No reliable univariate between-group differences in cortical structure or edgewise restFC were observed. Contrasting these mixed univariate results, multivariate machine learning classification approaches recovered more statistically reliable group differences, especially when sMRI and restFC features were combined in a multi-modal model (classification accuracy = 66.7%, p < .001). The same multivariate multi-modal approach also yielded reliable prediction of individual differences in a clinically relevant behavioral measure (persistence behavior; predicted-to-actual overlap r = 0.42, p = .009). Our findings suggest that sMRI and restFC measures can be used to reliably distinguish the neural effects of long-term opioid use, and that this endeavor numerically benefits from multivariate predictive approaches and multi-modal feature sets. This can serve as theoretical proof-of-concept for future longitudinal modeling of prognostic POUD characteristics from neuroimaging features, which would have clearer clinical utility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102663
JournalNeuroImage: Clinical
StatePublished - Jan 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


  • Addiction
  • Functional connectivity
  • Machine learning
  • Opioid
  • Resting state
  • Structural MRI


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