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Hippocampus. 2014 Mar;24(3):280-92. doi: 10.1002/hipo.22221. Epub 2013 Nov 13.

Sex, drugs, and adult neurogenesis: sex-dependent effects of escalating adolescent cannabinoid exposure on adult hippocampal neurogenesis, stress reactivity, and amphetamine sensitization.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.


Cannabinoid exposure during adolescence has adverse effects on neuroplasticity, emotional behavior, cognition, and reward sensitivity in adult rats. We investigated whether escalating doses of the cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1 R) agonist, HU-210, in adolescence would affect adult hippocampal neurogenesis and behavioral processes putatively modulated by hippocampal neurogenesis, in adult male and female Sprague-Dawley rats. Escalating doses of HU-210 (25, 50, and 100 µg/kg), or vehicle were administered from postnatal day (PND) 35 to 46. Animals were left undisturbed until PND 70, when they were treated with 5-bromo-2-deoxyuridine (BrdU; 200 mg/kg) and perfused 21 days later to examine density of BrdU-ir and BrdU/NeuN cells in the dentate gyrus. In another cohort, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis reactivity to an acute restraint stress (30 min; PND 75) and behavioral sensitization to d-amphetamine sulfate (1-2 mg/kg; PND 105-134) were assessed in adulthood. Adolescent HU-210 administration suppressed the density of BrdU-ir cells in the dentate gyrus in adult male, but not adult female rats. Adolescent HU-210 administration also induced significantly higher peak corticosterone levels and reminiscent of the changes in neurogenesis, this effect was more pronounced in adult males than females. However, adolescent cannabinoid treatment resulted in significantly higher stereotypy scores in adult female, but not male, rats. Thus, adolescent CB1 R activation suppressed hippocampal neurogenesis and increased stress responsivity in adult males, but not females, and enhanced amphetamine sensitization in adult female, but not male, rats. Taken together, increased CB1 R activation during adolescence results in sex-dependent, long-term, changes to hippocampal structure and function, an effect that may shed light on differing vulnerabilities to developing disorders following adolescent cannabinoid exposure, based on sex.

Copyright © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


CB1 receptor; HPA axis; periadolescent; sex difference; survival

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