The effects of exposure to cannabinoids during pregnancy


According to French research, exposure to cannabis during pregnancy impacts sociability in male offspring

The Conception Hospital in Marseille reveals that more than 10% of the 500 patients surveyed admit to smoking cannabis during their pregnancy. The question of whether it is prudent to continue using cannabis during pregnancy. Inserm has decided on the question. This new French study reveals that the effects of cannabis are transmitted during pregnancy, and an impact on the sociability of male rats.

Consume cannabis during pregnancy

Researchers at Inserm and the University of Aix-Marseille reveal in a rat study that prenatal exposure to cannabinoids has specific effects on adult offspring. According to this study published in eLife, and conducted within theInstitute of Neurobiology of the Mediterranean, suggests that cannabis use during pregnancy may result in male descendants a decrease in sociability, and an increase in neuronal excitability. Olivier Manzoni, research director of Inserm in Marseille.

"When rats are exposed to cannabis, it crosses the placenta. Behavioral changes in pups of these animals have been observed in adulthood. A decrease in social interactions has been observed, resulting in decreased play behavior and interactions among siblings in the litter. In humans, this type of decrease in social activity corresponds to a disengagement from social life. "

Their results revealed that male rats exposed in utero to cannabinoids were less sociable than normal animals. They spend less time interacting with their peers. In addition, their social behaviors appear to be altered, while the number of attacks between males remains unchanged ...

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No effects observed in females

The researchers found that exposed males exhibited increased excitability of pyramidal neurons in the prefrontal cortex. Thus, a disappearance of synaptic plasticity normally transmitted by the endocannabinoid system. In addition, none of these effects were observed in female rats ... The co-first author and PhD student Anissa Bara, tells us:

« The deleterious effects of prenatal exposure to cannabinoids on social behavior were specific to male offspring only. "

« However, if the social interaction was specifically altered in males, locomotor functions, anxiety, and cognition remained the same in both male and female rats. This suggests behavioral consequences specific to sex. "

Normalize behavioral abnormalities

The results also revealed that the expression of mGlu5 gene - an effector of the endocannabinoid system in the prefrontal cortex - was reduced in males exposed in utero to cannabinoids. In addition, the team discovered that amplification of signaling via mGlu5 could help normalize this condition. And, simply by activation of cannabinoid 1 receptors (cb1). In the same way, subsequent tests also made it possible to show that the increase in the rate ofanandamide in males can restore normal social behaviors via the cb1 receptor.

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"Overall, these results unequivocally prove the gender-specific effects of prenatal exposure to cannabinoids."

However, females are not really spared from uterine exposure to cannabis. Thus, researchers observed significant changes in synaptic protein gene expression in exposed females. But the functional and behavioral corollaries of these modifications lack identification ... The co-first author Antonia Manduca, also a postdoctoral researcher at Inserm at the Institute of Neurobiology of the Mediterranean, concludes:

"The fact that the amplification of mGlu5 signaling and the increase in anandamide levels make it possible to reverse the negative effects of early exposure in rats also suggest the possibility of a new pharmacological strategy that could one day to be tested in humans. "

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Tags : anandamideSearchEndocannabinoid system