Chronic Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol during adolescence provokes sex-dependent changes in the emotional profile in adult rats: Behavioral and biochemical correlates

Tiziana Rubino, Daniela Vigano', Natalia Realini, Cinzia Guidali, Daniela Braida, Valeria Capurro, Chiara Castiglioni, Francesca Cherubino, Patrizia Romualdi, Sanzio Candeletti, Mariaelvina Sala, Daniela Parolaro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Few and often contradictory reports exist on the long-term neurobiological consequences of cannabinoid consumption in adolescents. The endocannabinoid system plays an important role during the different stages of brain development as cannabinoids influence the release and action of different neurotransmitters and promote neurogenesis. This study tested whether long-lasting interference by cannabinoids with the developing endogenous cannabinoid system during adolescence caused persistent behavioral alterations in adult rats. Adolescent female and male rats were treated with increasing doses of Δ9- tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) for 11 days (postnatal day (PND) 35-45) and left undisturbed until adulthood (PND 75) when behavioral and biochemical assays were carried out. CB1 receptor level and CB1/G-protein coupling were significantly reduced by THC exposure in the amygdala (Amyg), ventral tegmental area (VTA) and nucleus accumbens (NAc) of female rats, whereas male rats had significant alterations only in the amygdala and hippocampal formation. Neither female nor male rats showed any changes in anxiety responses (elevated plus maze and open-field tests) but female rats presented significant 'behavioral despair' (forced swim test) paralleled by anhedonia (sucrose preference). In contrast, male rats showed no behavioral despair but did present anhedonia. This different behavioral picture was supported by biochemical parameters of depression, namely CREB alteration. Only female rats had low CREB activity in the hippocampal formation and prefrontal cortex and high activity in the NAc paralleled by increases in dynorphin expression. These results suggest that heavy cannabis consumption in adolescence may induce subtle alterations in the emotional circuit in female rats, ending in depressive-like behavior, whereas male rats show altered sensitivity to rewarding stimuli.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2760-2771
Number of pages12
JournalNeuropsychopharmacology
Volume33
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008

Keywords

  • Adolescence
  • CREB
  • Depressive-like behavior
  • Dynorphin
  • Gender sensitivity
  • THC

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology

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    Rubino, T., Vigano', D., Realini, N., Guidali, C., Braida, D., Capurro, V., Castiglioni, C., Cherubino, F., Romualdi, P., Candeletti, S., Sala, M., & Parolaro, D. (2008). Chronic Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol during adolescence provokes sex-dependent changes in the emotional profile in adult rats: Behavioral and biochemical correlates. Neuropsychopharmacology, 33(11), 2760-2771. https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.npp.1301664