Maternal exposure to delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol facilitates morphine self-administration behavior and changes regional binding to central mu opioid receptors in adult offspring female rats.
ABSTRACT Opiates and cannabinoids are among the most widely consumed habit-forming drugs in humans. Several studies have demonstrated the existence of interactions between both kind of drugs in a variety of effects and experimental models. The present study has been focused to determine whether perinatal delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta9-THC) exposure affects the susceptibility to reinforcing effects of morphine in adulthood and whether these potential changes were accompanied by variations in mu opioid receptor binding in brain regions related to drug reinforcement. Adult female rats born from mothers that were daily treated with delta9-THC during gestation and lactation periods, exhibited a statistically significant increase in the rate of acquisition of intravenous morphine self-administration behavior when compared with females born from vehicle-exposed mothers, an effect that did not exist in delta9-THC-exposed male offspring. This increase was significantly greater on the last day of acquisition period. There were not significant differences when the subjects were lever pressing for food. In parallel, we have also examined the density of mu opioid receptors in the brain of adult male and female offspring that were exposed to Delta9-THC during the perinatal period. Collectively, perinatal exposure to delta9-THC produced changes in mu opioid receptor binding that differed regionally and that were mostly different as a function of sex. Thus, delta9-THC-exposed males exhibited a lower density for these receptors than their respective oil-exposed controls in the caudate-putamen area as well as in the amygdala (posteromedial cortical nucleus). On the contrary, delta9-THC-exposed females exhibited higher density of these receptors than their respective oil-exposed controls in the prefrontal cortex, the hippocampus (CA3 area), the amygdala (posteromedial cortical nucleus), the ventral tegmental area and the periaqueductal grey matter, whereas the binding was lower than control females only in the lateral amygdala. These results support the notion that perinatal delta9-THC exposure alters the susceptibility to morphine reinforcing effects in adult female offspring, in parallel with changes in mu opioid receptor binding in several brain regions.
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ABSTRACT: There is currently substantial evidence that Cannabis sativa derivates act on brain reward in a way very similar to other drugs of abuse and exert numerous pharmacological effects through their interaction with various neurotransmitters and neuromodulators. Among them, the endogenous opioids seem to play an important role in modulating the addictive properties of cannabinoids. Given the plethora of research activity on such a topic, this brief review is necessarily focused on cannabinoid/opioid interaction in reward-related events and restricted to the recent literature. Recent findings from our and other laboratories concerning cannabinoid reinforcing effects as revealed by behavioral animal models of addiction are here summarized. Evidence is then provided demonstrating a functional cross-talk between the cannabinoid and opioid systems in the mutual modulation of the addictive behavior; accordingly, very recent data from transgenic mice lacking either the cannabinoid CB1 or opioid receptors are also presented. Finally, the role of the endogenous cannabinoid system in relapse to opioids is investigated by means of extinction/reinstatement animal models following a period, even prolonged, of drug abstinence. Altogether, the reviewed studies provided a better understanding of the neurobiological mechanisms involved in cannabinoid actions and revealed a bidirectional interaction between the endogenous cannabinoid and opioid systems in reward that extends to central mechanisms underlying relapsing phenomena. Challenges for the future involve elucidation of the neuroanatomical substrates of cannabinoids action, even in light of the therapeutic potential of these compounds.Critical Reviews in Neurobiology 02/2004; 16(1-2):147-58.
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ABSTRACT: Cannabinoid receptors and their endogenous ligands have been detected from the earliest stages of embryonic development. The endocannabinoid system appears to play essential roles in these early stages for neuronal development and cell survival, although its detailed involvement in fundamental developmental processes such as proliferation, migration and differentiation has not yet been completely understood. Therefore, it is not surprising that manipulations of the endocannabinoid system by cannabinoid exposure during early developmental stages can result in long-lasting neurobehavioural consequences. The present review will summarize the possible residual behavioural effects of cannabinoid administration during pre- and perinatal as well as early postnatal development, derived from animal studies.Archiv f ur Psychiatrie und Nervenkrankheiten 08/2009; 259(7):383-93. · 2.75 Impact Factor
Article: Cannabinoid-opioid interactions in drug discrimination and self-administration: effect of maternal, postnatal, adolescent and adult exposure to the drugs.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Cannabinoids and opioids are known to strictly interact in many physiological and pathological functions, including addiction. The endogenous opioid system is significantly influenced by maternal or perinatal cannabinoid exposure, major changes concerning operant behaviour in adult animals. Copious data suggests that adolescence is also a particularly sensitive period of life not only for the initiation of abusing illicit drugs, but also for the effects that these drugs exert on the neural circuitries leading to drug dependence. This paper examines the role played by the age of drug exposure in the susceptibility to discriminative and reinforcing effects of both cannabinoids and opioids. We first revisited evidence of alterations in the density and functionality of mu-opioid and CB1 cannabinoid receptors in reward-related brain regions caused by either maternal, postnatal, adolescent or adult exposure to opioids and cannabinoids. Then, we reviewed behavioural evidence of the long-term consequences of exposure to opioids and cannabinoids during gestation, postnatal period, adolescence or adulthood, focusing mostly on drug discrimination and self-administration studies. Overall, evidence confirms a neurobiological convergence of the cannabinoid and opioid systems that is manifest at both receptor and behavioural levels. Although discrepant results have been reported, some data support the gateway hypothesis that adolescent cannabis exposure contributes to greater opioid intake in adulthood. However, it should be kept into consideration that in humans genetic, environmental, and social factors could influence the direct neurobiological effects of early cannabis exposure to the progression to adult drug abuse.Current drug targets 10/2009; 11(4):450-61. · 3.93 Impact Factor