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Marijuana increases alcohol toxicity in young rats
Date:4/8/2008

Marijuana is among the most frequently used illicit drugs by women during their childbearing years and there is growing concern that marijuana abuse during pregnancy, either alone or in combination with other drugs, may have serious effects on fetal brain development. There is strong evidence that THC, the main psychoactive component of marijuana, crosses the placenta, that maternal marijuana abuse results in intrauterine growth retardation and that infants exposed to marijuana exhibit a temporary syndrome that includes lethargy and decreased muscle tone. Fetal exposure to THC can also result in attention deficits, learning disabilities and behavioral problems. A new study using rats found that THC combined with mildly intoxicating doses of alcohol induced widespread nerve cell death in the brain. The study is published in the Annals of Neurology (http://www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/ana), the official journal of the American Neurological Association.

Led by Henrik Hansen and Chrysanthy Ikonomidou, at the Neuroscience Research Center of the Humboldt University in Berlin and the Department of Pediatric Neurology, University of Technology Dresden, Germany, researchers administered THC, a synthetic form of THC, ethanol, MK-801 (an anticonvulsant) and phenobarbital by injection to rats between 1 and 14 days old. A previous study by the same group had shown that ethanol and drugs such as sedatives, anesthetics and anticonvulsants triggered widespread nerve cell death in the developing brain of immature rodents; the current study was conducted to determine if cannabinoids had the same effect.

The results showed that THC and its synthetic form did not cause neurodegeneration when administered alone but did cause cell death when given with lower than toxic amounts of ethanol. This combined effect increased according to the dose of THC that was administered and was strongest when the ra
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Contact: Amy Molnar
amolnar@wiley.com
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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