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Mol Psychiatry. 2010 Jan;15(1):101-12. doi: 10.1038/mp.2008.50. Epub 2008 May 13.

Heavy marijuana users show increased serum apolipoprotein C-III levels: evidence from proteomic analyses.

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Molecular Neuropsychiatry Branch, National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIH, BRC, Baltimore, MD 21224, USA.


Marijuana (MJ) is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States. Its abuse is associated with cognitive dysfunctions and increased resistance to blood flow in the cerebral vasculature. In addition, MJ abuse is associated with increased risks of potentially serious cardiovascular disorders. In the present study, we used the protein chip platform based on surface-enhanced laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectroscopy (SELDI-TOF-MS) to test the possibility that MJ abuse might be associated with changes in serum protein levels. Indeed, MJ users showed significant increases in three protein peaks, which were identified as three isoforms of apolipoprotein (apo) C-III. Immunoprecipitation using an apoC-III antibody also validated the identification of the proteins. Marijuana-induced increases in apoC-III levels might occur through chronic stimulation of hepatic cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and/or CB2) by its active ingredient, Delta(9)tetrahydrocannibol (THC). Thus, chronic MJ abuse might cause increased transcription and/or translation of apoC-III in the liver with corresponding changes reflected in the plasma of these patients. In any case, because apoC-III is a cardiovascular risk factor, the increased levels observed in MJ users might explain, in part, the cardiac and cerebral abnormalities reported in these patients.

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