Research Press Release

Neuroscience: THC during pregnancy in rats alters offspring’s brain and behavior

Nature Neuroscience

October 15, 2019

For male rats, prenatal exposure of THC - the main psychoactive component of cannabis - is linked to hyperactive dopamine neurons, and increased sensitivity to the behavioural effects of THC during pre-adolescence, suggests a paper published in Nature Neuroscience.

For male rats, prenatal exposure of THC - the main psychoactive component of cannabis - is linked to hyperactive dopamine neurons, and increased sensitivity to the behavioural effects of THC during pre-adolescence, suggests a paper published in Nature Neuroscience.

Miriam Melis modelled prenatal cannabis exposure in rats by administering THC to pregnant mothers and examining their offspring during adolescence. The authors found an increased susceptibility to THC in male, but not female, offspring in the pre-pulse inhibition paradigm, a measure of behavioral modulation that is impaired in many psychiatric diseases. They also observed that dopamine neurons in a brain region called the ventral tegmental area, which is involved in reward and motivation, were hyperactive. The authors were able to correct these behavioural and neural changes by treating the adolescent rats with pregnenolone, a US FDA-approved drug currently under investigation in clinical trials for cannabis-use disorder, schizophrenia, autism and bipolar disorder.

doi:10.1038/s41593-019-0512-2

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