Send to

Choose Destination
Cell Physiol Biochem. 2017;42(2):537-550. doi: 10.1159/000477603. Epub 2017 Jun 5.

Suppression of STAT3 Signaling by Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) Induces Trophoblast Dysfunction.

Author information

Clinical and Translational Research Center, Shanghai, China.
Department of Pathology, Shanghai, China.
Department of Obstetrics, Shanghai First Maternity and Infant Hospital, Tongji University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China.



Marijuana is a widely used illicit drug and its consumption during pregnancy has been associated with adverse reproductive outcomes. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of chronic intake of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the major component of marijuana, on trophoblast function, placental development, and birth outcomes.


The pathological characteristics and distribution of cannabinoid receptors in placenta were observed by immunohistochemical (IHC) staining. Cell migration in response to THC was measured by transwell assays. The levels of cannabinoid receptors and Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 3 (STAT3) were detected by western blot.


We found the placenta expressed two main cannabinoid receptors, suggesting that THC induced biological responses in placental cells. Supporting this hypothesis, we observed dramatic alterations of placental morphology in marijuana users. Using THC and inhibitors of cannabinoid receptors, we demonstrated that THC impaired trophoblast cell migration and invasion partly via cannabinoid receptors. Additionally, pregnant mice injected with THC showed adverse reproductive events including reduced number of fetuses, lower maternal and placental weights. Mechanistically, STAT3 signaling pathway was involved in the THC-induced suppression of trophoblast cell motility and pregnancy outcomes.


Our study indicates that the STAT3 signaling pathway plays a critical role in THC-induced trophoblast dysfunction.


Marijuana/Cannabis; Perinatal outcomes; Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 3/STAT3; Trophoblast dysfunction; Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol/THC

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for S. Karger AG, Basel, Switzerland
Loading ...
Support Center