Paternal Cannabis Exposure Prior to Mating, but Not Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, Elicits Deficits in Dopaminergic Synaptic Activity in the Offspring.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

The legalization and increasing availability of cannabis products raises concerns about the impact on offspring of users, and little has appeared on the potential contribution of paternal use. We administered cannabis extract to male rats prior to mating, with two different 28-day exposures, one where there was a 56-day interval between the end of exposure and mating ("Early Cannabis"), and one just prior to mating ("Late Cannabis"); the extract delivered 4 mg/kg/day of the main psychoactive component, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol. We then assessed the impact on dopamine (DA) systems in the offspring from the onset of adolescence (postnatal day 30) through middle age (postnatal day 150), measuring the levels of DA and its primary metabolite, 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC) in various brain regions. Paternal cannabis with either regimen elicited a profound and persistent deficit in DA utilization (DOPAC/DA ratio) in the offspring, indicative of subnormal presynaptic activity. However, the two regimens differed in the underlying mechanism, with Early Cannabis reducing DOPAC whereas Late Cannabis increased DA and elicited a smaller reduction in DOPAC. Effects were restricted to male offspring. The effects of cannabis were not reproduced by equivalent exposure to its Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, nor did we see the effects with perinatal exposure to tobacco smoke or some of its fetotoxic contributors (benzo[a]pyrene without or with nicotine). Our studies provide some of the first evidence for adverse effects of paternal cannabis administration on neurodevelopment in the offspring, and reinforce the important consequences of paternal drug use in the preconception period.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Slotkin, TA; Levin, ED; Seidler, FJ

Published Date

  • November 24, 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 184 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 252 - 264

PubMed ID

  • 34590702

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8633960

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1096-0929

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/toxsci/kfab117


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States