Paternal Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol Exposure Prior to Mating Elicits Deficits in Cholinergic Synaptic Function in the Offspring.
Little attention has been paid to the potential impact of paternal marijuana use on offspring brain development. We administered Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, 0, 2, or 4 mg/kg/day) to male rats for 28 days. Two days after the last THC treatment, the males were mated to drug-naïve females. We then assessed the impact on development of acetylcholine (ACh) systems in the offspring, encompassing the period from the onset of adolescence (postnatal day 30) through middle age (postnatal day 150), and including brain regions encompassing the majority of ACh terminals and cell bodies. Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol produced a dose-dependent deficit in hemicholinium-3 binding, an index of presynaptic ACh activity, superimposed on regionally selective increases in choline acetyltransferase activity, a biomarker for numbers of ACh terminals. The combined effects produced a persistent decrement in the hemicholinium-3/choline acetyltransferase ratio, an index of impulse activity per nerve terminal. At the low THC dose, the decreased presynaptic activity was partially compensated by upregulation of nicotinic ACh receptors, whereas at the high dose, receptors were subnormal, an effect that would exacerbate the presynaptic defect. Superimposed on these effects, either dose of THC also accelerated the age-related decline in nicotinic ACh receptors. Our studies provide evidence for adverse effects of paternal THC administration on neurodevelopment in the offspring and further demonstrate that adverse impacts of drug exposure on brain development are not limited to effects mediated by the embryonic or fetal chemical environment, but rather that vulnerability is engendered by exposures occurring prior to conception, involving the father as well as the mother.
Slotkin, TA; Skavicus, S; Levin, ED; Seidler, FJ
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