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Life Sci. 1995;56(23-24):2177-84.

The prenatal exposure to delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol affects the gene expression and the activity of tyrosine hydroxylase during early brain development.

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  • 1Instituto Complutense de Drogodependencias, Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, Complutense University, Madrid, Spain.

Abstract

We have previously reported that the exposure of pregnant female rats to delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) during the perinatal period affected the gene expression and the activity of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) in the brain of their male offspring. Those studies were done in animals perinatally exposed to THC but tested at peripubertal and adult ages. In the present work, we explored whether these effects also appear during early fetal brain development, when TH expression plays an important role in neuronal development. To this end, TH-mRNA concentrations were measured by Northern blot analysis with a specific TH probe in the brain of fetuses at gestational days 14 and 16 which had been prenatally exposed to THC or vehicle from day 5 of gestation. In parallel, measurements of TH activity and catecholamine contents by HPLC were also done. The results obtained were as follows. The prenatal exposure to THC markedly affected the expression of the TH gene in the brain of fetuses at gestational day 14. Thus, the amounts of TH-mRNA at this age were higher (2-fold) in THC-exposed fetuses than in controls. This corresponded with a marked increase in the activity of this enzyme (3-fold) at this age. Normalization was found in both parameters at gestational day 16. In summary, the prenatal exposure to THC affected the expression of the TH gene and the activity of this enzyme in brain catecholaminergic neurons during early fetal brain development. These results support the notion that cannabinoids are able to act at the level of the gene expression of specific key proteins for brain development.

PMID:
7776847
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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