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Parental exposure to marijuana linked to drug addiction, compulsive behavior in unexposed progeny, rodent sudy finds

Date:
January 22, 2014
Source:
Mount Sinai Medical Center
Summary:
Teen marijuana use may have repercussions in unexposed progeny. This rodent study found that parental use of marijuana/THC was linked to molecular and neurobiological disturbances and increased motivation to get drugs.

“Our study emphasizes that cannabis [marijuana] affects not just those exposed, but has adverse affects on future generations,” said Yasmin Hurd, PhD, the study’s senior author.
Credit: Ondrej Hajek / Fotolia

Exposing adolescent rats to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) –the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana—can lead to molecular and behavioral alterations in the next generation of offspring, even though progeny were not directly exposed to the drug, researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have found. Male offspring showed stronger motivation to self-administer heroin during their adulthood and molecular changes in the glutamatergic system, which is the most important excitatory pathway for neurotransmission in the brain. Damage in the glutamate pathway, which regulates synaptic plasticity, has been linked to disturbances in goal-directed behavior and habit formation.

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The study is published online Jan. 22 in Neuropsychopharmacology.

“Our study emphasizes that cannabis [marijuana] affects not just those exposed, but has adverse affects on future generations,” said Yasmin Hurd, PhD, the study’s senior author, and professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “Finding increased vulnerability to drug addiction and compulsive behavior in generations not directly exposed is an important consideration for legislators considering legalizing marijuana.”

In the study, Dr. Hurd and colleagues gave adolescent male rats 1.5 mg/kg of THC, similar to about one joint in human use. None of the rats had been exposed to THC before, but their parents were exposed to THC as teens and then mated later in life. THC-exposed offspring worked harder to self-administer heroin by pressing a lever multiple times to get heroin infusion.

Although marijuana use and safety tends to be discussed in terms of its impact to the individual during the lifetime, few studies have addressed adverse effects in future generations. “What this opens up are many questions regarding the epigenetic mechanisms that mediate cross-generational brain effects,” said Dr. Hurd.

Future studies are now being explored to determine whether THC effects continue to be transmitted to even the subsequent grandchildren and great-grandchildren generations. Another important question relates to potential treatment interventions in order to reverse the cross-generational THC effects. Such insights could also have implications for novel treatment opportunities for related psychiatric illnesses.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Mount Sinai Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Henrietta Szutorisz, Jennifer A DiNieri, Eric Sweet, Gabor Egervari, Michael Michaelides, Jenna M Carter, Yanhua Ren, Michael L Miller, Robert D Blitzer, Yasmin L Hurd. Parental THC Exposure Leads to Compulsive Heroin-Seeking and Altered Striatal Synaptic Plasticity in the Subsequent Generation. Neuropsychopharmacology, 2014; DOI: 10.1038/npp.2013.352

Cite This Page:

Mount Sinai Medical Center. "Parental exposure to marijuana linked to drug addiction, compulsive behavior in unexposed progeny, rodent sudy finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140122102535.htm>.
Mount Sinai Medical Center. (2014, January 22). Parental exposure to marijuana linked to drug addiction, compulsive behavior in unexposed progeny, rodent sudy finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140122102535.htm
Mount Sinai Medical Center. "Parental exposure to marijuana linked to drug addiction, compulsive behavior in unexposed progeny, rodent sudy finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140122102535.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

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