Reduced serum concentrations of nerve growth factor, but not brain-derived neurotrophic factor, in chronic cannabis abusers

Francesco Angelucci, Valerio Ricci, Gianfranco Spalletta, Massimiliano Pomponi, Federico Tonioni, Carlo Caltagirone, Pietro Bria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Chronic cannabis use produces effects within the central nervous system (CNS) which include deficits in learning and attention tasks and decreased brain volume. Neurotrophins, in particular nerve growth factor (NGF) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), are proteins that serve as survival factors for CNS neurons. Deficits in the production and utilization of these proteins can lead to CNS dysfunctions including those associated with cannabis abuse. In this study we measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) the NGF and BDNF serum levels in two groups of subjects: cannabis-dependent patients and healthy subjects. We found that NGF serum levels were significantly reduced in cannabis abusers as compared to healthy subjects. These findings indicate that NGF may have a role in the central action of cannabis and potentially in the neurotoxicity induced by this drug. These data also suggest that chronic cannabis consumption may be a risk factor for developing psychosis among drug users.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)882-887
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Neuropsychopharmacology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2008



  • Abusers
  • BDNF
  • Cannabis
  • NGF
  • Serum levels

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Neurology
  • Pharmacology

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