Effects on Development

Departamento de Bioquímica, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Complutense, 28040 Madrid, Spain.
Handbook of experimental pharmacology 02/2005; 168(168):643-56. DOI: 10.1007/3-540-26573-2_22
Source: PubMed


This chapter will review the effects produced on neural development by maternal consumption of cannabinoids during gestation and lactation, with emphasis in the maturation of several neurotransmitter systems (dopamine, serotonin, opioids, cannabinoids, etc.) and possible modifications in their functional expression at the behavioral or neuroendocrine levels. In addition, we have analyzed the possible existence of a sexual dimorphism in these ontogenic effects of cannabinoids, as well as the possible molecular mechanism underlying such effects. In general, the results discussed support the view that exposure to cannabinoids during critical periods of development produces marked modifications in the functional expression of diverse neuronal systems in adulthood. Furthermore, the functions of endocannabinoids in the brain are large not only in adulthood, but also in the period of prenatal and postnatal development. Thus, endocannabinoids have been reported to be present in early ages and to play a role in the process of brain development: neural proliferation and migration, axonal elongation, synaptogenesis and/or myelogenesis.

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    • "Moreover, perinatal cannabinoid exposure produces sex-dependent alterations in copulatory and socio-sexual approach behaviors in adult rodents (Dalterio and Bartke, 1979; Dalterio, 1980; Navarro et al., 1996). These early observations and others led to the remarkable finding that the endocannabinoid (eCB) system is involved in many stages of neuronal development, such as differentiation, migration, axon pathfinding and synaptogenesis (Harkany et al., 2008; Ramos et al., 2005). Perinatal cannabinoid exposure produces long-term neurobehavioral effects likely by interfering with normal eCB-mediated developmental processes. "
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    ABSTRACT: Adolescence is a developmental period characterized by neuronal remodeling and the maturation of adult emotionality, reproductive behavior and social behavior. We examined whether chronic cannabinoid exposure in adolescent rats alters female sexual motivation, estrous cyclicity, sucrose preference, and CB(1)R expression in adulthood. Female rats were administered with the synthetic cannabinoid agonist, CP-55,940 (0.4 mg/kg, intraperitoneal), daily during adolescent development (PND 35-45). In a subset of subjects, socio-sexual motivation was investigated in adulthood (PND 75-86) using a runway apparatus. Estrous cyclicity was tracked in adulthood via vaginal cytology and a single-mount test. A two-bottle sucrose preference test was also conducted to determine whether predicted changes in socio-sexual motivation might be linked to alterations in hedonic processing. CB(1)R expression was examined in two separate subsets of subjects, one sacrificed following drug treatment (PND 46) and one before behavioral testing (PND 74). Drug treatment significantly decreased adult preference for a male conspecific (sexual motivation), as assessed by both Run Time and Proximity Time, but did not affect estrous cyclicity or sucrose preference. CP-55,940 treatment also induced immediate, but transient, decreases in CB(1)R expression in the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus and amygdala. Drug treatment did not affect CB(1)R expression in the nucleus accumbens (core or shell) or globus pallidus at either time point. We suggest that the endocannabinoid system may play a role in the maturation of neuroendocrine axes and adult female reproductive behavior, and that chronic exposure to cannabinoids during adolescence disrupts these neurodevelopmental processes.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2011 · Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
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    ABSTRACT: The isolation and identification, in 1964, of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis, opened the door to a whole new field of medical research. The exploration of the therapeutic potential of THC and other natural and synthetic cannabinoid compounds was paralleled by the discovery of the endocannabinoid system, comprising cannabinoid receptors and their endogenous ligands, which offered exciting new insights into brain function. Besides its well-known involvement in specific brain functions, such as control of movement, memory and emotions, the endocannabinoid system plays an important role in fundamental developmental processes such as cell proliferation, migration and differentiation. For this reason, changes in its activity during stages of high neuronal plasticity, such as the perinatal and the adolescent period, can have long-lasting neurobehavioral consequences. Here, we summarize human and animal studies examining the behavioral and neurobiological effects of in utero and adolescent exposure to cannabis. Since cannabis preparations are widely used and abused by young people, including pregnant women, understanding how cannabinoid compounds affect the developing brain, leading to neurobehavioral alterations or neuropsychiatric disorders later in life, is a serious health issue. In addition, since the endocannabinoid system is emerging as a novel therapeutic target for the treatment of several neuropsychiatric diseases, a detailed investigation of possible adverse effects of cannabinoid compounds on the central nervous system (CNS) of immature individuals is warranted.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2008 · European Journal of Pharmacology
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    ABSTRACT: Endogenous cannabinoid-receptor ligands (endocannabinoids) and over a dozen related metabolites now comprise the "endocannabinoid metabolome". The diverse (patho)physiological roles of endocannabinoids, the predictive/diagnostic utility of systemic endocannabinoid levels, and the growing interest in endocannabinoid-related pharmacotherapeutics mandate a valid clinical protocol for processing human blood that does not jeopardize profiling of the circulating endocannabinoid metabolome. We systematically evaluated the potential effect of pre-analytical variables associated with phlebotomy and sample handling/work-up on the human-blood endocannabinoid metabolome as quantified by state-of-the-art liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Neither subject posture during phlebotomy nor moderate activity beforehand influenced the blood levels of the 15 endocannabinoid-system lipids quantified. Storage of fresh blood at 4 degrees C selectively enhanced ethanolamide concentrations artifactually without affecting monoglycerides and nonesterified fatty acids, such as arachidonic acid. In marked contrast, ethanolamides and monoglycerides remained stable through three plasma freeze/thaw cycles, whereas plasma arachidonic acid content increased, probably a reflection of ongoing metabolism. Class- and compound-selective pre-analytical influences on circulating human endocannabinoid levels necessitate immediate plasma preparation from fresh blood and prompt plasma apportioning and snap-freezing. Repeated plasma thawing and refreezing should be avoided. This protocol ensures sample integrity for evaluating the circulating endocannabinoid metabolome in the clinical setting.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2008 · Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine
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