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Neurotoxicology. 1989 Fall;10(3):491-500.

Effects of chronic delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) administration on neurotransmitter concentrations and receptor binding in the rat brain.

Author information

1
Division of Reproductive and Developmental Toxicology, National Center for Toxicological Research, Jefferson, Arkansas 72079.

Abstract

THC is the major psychoactive constituent of marijuana and is also known as an hallucinogenic compound. Numerous reports have shown that large doses of THC produce significant alterations in various neurotransmitter systems. The present study was designed to determine whether chronic exposure to THC produces significant alterations in selected neurotransmitter systems (dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine, GABAergic, benzodiazepine, and opiate) in the rat brain. In Experiment 1, male Sprague-Dawley rats were gavaged with vehicle, 10 or 20 mg THC/kg body weight daily, 5 days/week for 90 days. Animals were killed either 24 hours or two months after the last dose. Brains were dissected into different regions for neurochemical analyses. Two months after the cessation of chronic administration, there was a significant decrease in GABA receptor binding in the hippocampus of animals in the high dose group. However, no other significant changes were found in neurotransmitter receptor binding characteristics in the hippocampus or in neurotransmitter concentrations in the caudate nucleus, hypothalamus or septum after chronic THC administration. In an attempt to replicate the GABA receptor binding changes and also to determine the [35S]TBPS binding in hippocampus, we designed Experiment 2. In this experiment, we dosed the animals by gavage with 0, 5, 10 or 20 mg THC/kg daily, 5 days/week or with 20 mg THC/kg Monday through Thursday and 60 mg/kg on Friday for 90 days. Results from this experiment failed to replicate the dose-dependent effect of THC on GABA receptor binding in hippocampus. Modulation of [35S]TBPS binding by GABA or 3 alpha-OH-DHP or inhibition by cold TBPS in frontal cortex did not show any significant dose-related effects. Results from these experiments suggest that chronic exposure to THC does not produce significant alterations in catecholamine or indoleamine neurotransmitter systems or in opiate or GABA receptor systems in the rat brain.

PMID:
2576303
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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