Tag: cannabis

Long-term Marijuana Use Could Impact Male Fertility

Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

Chronic use of marijuana could greatly impact male fertility and reproductive outcomes, according to a new study appearing in Fertility & Sterility. This is the first study to assess the impacts of typical substance use on testicular function via a mode of delivery, and dosage.

Robust research in animal models has shown that cannabis negatively impacts male fertility. Researchers monitored the reproductive systems of healthy male nonhuman primates following exposure to THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

The nonhuman primates in the study received a THC edible once daily over the course of seven months. Their THC dose was based on published medical marijuana acclimation recommendations for humans, and was increased every 70 days in alignment with the animals’ sperm development cycle. Dose adjustments were made until it reached the equivalent of a heavy medical marijuana dose in humans. Semen samples were collected at baseline before initiation of THC, and again at the end of each THC dosing timepoint.

The study found that THC use was linked to significant adverse impacts to the animals’ reproductive hormones, including decreased levels of testosterone and severe testicular shrinkage. “Specifically, we observed a greater than 50% decrease in testicular size,” said senior author Jamie Lo, MD, MCR. “Unfortunately, these effects appeared to worsen as the THC dose was increased, suggesting a possible dose-dependent effect.”

These results align with Dr Lo’s previous studies indicating similar THC-associated impacts to female reproductive hormones and the menstrual cycle.

“These early findings are concerning from a clinical standpoint,” said study lead author Jason Hedges, MD, PhD. “Even moderate doses could have a profound impact on fertility outcomes. While family planning may not be top of mind for those in their late teens and early 20s, the longer-term effects of THC on male reproductive health are not well-defined; it is possible that THC could cause lasting impacts that may alter family planning later in life.”

The researchers will continue to explore the relationship between THC and reproductive health in both male and female nonhuman primates, examining longer term THC exposure impacts, including changes to sperm count and motility, and whether discontinuing use of THC products could reverse adverse effects.

Source: Ohio Health & Science University

Cannabis Use Risks Harmful Drug–Drug Interactions

Photo by Crystalweed Cannabis on Unsplash

Using cannabis alongside other drugs may come with a significant risk of harmful drug-drug interactions, according to a pair of new studies in the journal Drug Metabolism and Disposition.

The researchers examined cannabinoids and their major metabolites found in the blood of cannabis users and found that they interfere with two families of enzymes that help metabolise a wide range of prescription drugs. Because of this, the drugs’ effectiveness might decrease or their negative effects might increase with too much building up in the body, causing unintended side effects such as toxicity or accidental overdose.

The authors note that despite the early stage of this research, it is important to be careful when using cannabis with other prescription drugs.

“Physicians need to be aware of the possibility of toxicity or lack of response when patients are using cannabinoids,” said Professor Philip Lazarus, senior author on the papers. “It’s one thing if you’re young and healthy and smoke cannabis once in a while, but for older people who are using medications, taking CBD or medicinal marijuana may negatively impact their treatment.”

One study focused on a family of enzymes known as cytochrome P450s (CYPs), whereas the other looked at UDP-glucuronosyltransferases (UGTs), another enzyme family. Together, these two enzyme families help metabolise and eliminate more than 70% of the most commonly used drugs from the body.

While some previous research focused on potential drug interactions caused by cannabinoids, this new research provides the first known comprehensive look at the interaction between three of the most abundant cannabinoids (tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN)) and their metabolites and all of the major CYP enzymes. This is also the first known research that looked for interactions between these cannabinoids and UGT enzymes, specifically.

“Cannabinoids stay in your body only for about 30 minutes before they are rapidly broken down,” said first author Shamema Nasrin. “The metabolites that result from that process stay in your body for much longer – up to 14 days – and at higher concentrations than cannabinoids and have been overlooked in previous studies, which is why we thought we should focus on those as well.”

Using human kidney cells, they found that cannabinoids and the major THC metabolites strongly inhibited several CYP enzymes. One key discovery was that one of the most abundant THC metabolites, called THC-COO-Gluc seems to play a major role in inhibiting several key enzymes in the liver. Looking at the UGT enzyme family, the researchers found that all three cannabinoids, but especially CBD, inhibited two of the primary UGT enzymes present in the liver. CBD was also found to block three enzymes that account for about 95 percent of kidney UGT metabolism, which helps clear toxins and certain drugs from the body.

“If you have a kidney disease or you are taking one or more drugs that are metabolised primarily through the kidney and you’re also smoking marijuana, you could be inhibiting normal kidney function, and it may have long-term effects for you,” Prof Lazarus said.

Nasrin added that these interactions between CBD and UGT enzymes could be inhibiting kidney function in patients with acute kidney disease or kidney cancer, who may be using CBD to treat pain or to try to reduce the side effects from anti-cancer drugs.

“Taking CBD or marijuana might help your pain but could be making the other drug you’re taking more toxic, and that increase in toxicity may mean that you can’t continue taking that drug,” Nasrin said. “So, there could be serious ramifications for anti-cancer drugs, and that’s only one example of the many drugs that could potentially be affected by the cannabinoid-enzyme interactions we’re seeing.”

Source: Washington State University

Cannabis Use in Pregnancy Predisposes Children to Stress and Anxiety

Photo by Harrison Haines on Pexels

Women who use cannabis during pregnancy, such as for stress and anxiety relief, may inadvertently predispose their children to stress susceptibility and anxiety, according to a study published in PNAS.

As cannabis continues to be legalised worldwide, many people mistakenly believe that cannabis use is without significant health risks. In line with this softening public opinion, cannabis has emerged as one of the most consumed recreational drugs of abuse during pregnancy, however the impact of maternal cannabis use on foetal and childhood development is unclear.

“We know that cannabinoid signaling plays a role in modulating stress, which is why some people use cannabis to reduce anxiety and relax,” said first author Professor Yoko Nomura at CUNY Graduate Center and Queens College. “But our study shows that in utero exposure to cannabis has the opposite effect on children, causing them to have increased levels of anxiety, aggression, and hyperactivity compared to other children who were not exposed to cannabis during pregnancy.”

Researchers examined placental gene expression and early childhood behaviour and physiology in a long-term study of 322 mother-child pairs who were drawn from an ongoing New York City-based study of stress in pregnancy started in 2009. When the children were approximately six years old, hormone levels were measured via their hair samples, electrocardiogram recordings were used to measure heart function during a stress-inducing condition, and behavioural and emotional functioning was assessed based on surveys administered to the parents.

The children of mothers who used cannabis during pregnancy showed higher anxiety, aggression, hyperactivity, and levels of the stress hormone cortisol, compared to children of non-cannabis users. Maternal cannabis use was also associated with a reduction in the high-frequency component of heart rate variability, which normally reflects increased stress sensitivity. In addition, RNA sequencing of placental tissue collected at birth in a subset of participants revealed that there was an association between maternal cannabis use and lower expression of immune-activating genes, including pro-inflammatory cytokines. The cannabis-related suppression of several placental immune-gene networks predicted higher anxiety in the children.

“Pregnant women are being bombarded with misinformation that cannabis is of no risk, while the reality is that cannabis is more potent today than it was even a few years ago. Our findings indicate that using it during pregnancy can have long-term impact on children,” said senior author Yasmin Hurd, PhD. “The study results underscore the need for nonbiased education and outreach to the public and particular vulnerable populations of pregnant women regarding the potential impact of cannabis use. Disseminating this data and accurate information is essential to improving the health of women and their children.”

Source: The Mount Sinai Hospital

Cannabis Use during Pregnancy is on the Rise

Source: Anna Hecker on Unsplash

As cannabis becomes increasingly legalised, for medical or recreational purposes, its use during pregnancy is increasing, along with the potential for abuse or dependence.

A new study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, explored the magnitude and nature of cannabis use disorders during pregnancy by examining hospital discharge codes. Most of those hospitalisations were for childbirth.

The study found that the proportion of hospitalised pregnant patients identified with cannabis use disorder (defined as cannabis use with clinically significant impairment or distress) rose 150% from 2010 to 2018.

Largest such study so far
“This is the largest study to document the scale of cannabis use disorder in prenatal hospitalisations,” said study co-author Claudia Lugo-Candelas, PhD, assistant professor of clinical medical psychology in Columbia University’s Department of Psychiatry. She notes the study found that pregnant patients with the condition had sharply higher levels of depression, anxiety, and nausea – results of clinical concern.  

“It’s a red flag that patients may not be getting the treatment they need,” Dr Lugo-Candelas said.

Some pregnant patients use cannabis instead of prescribed medications, thinking it’s a safer choice as cannabis legalisation has eased safety fears. However, both the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) have recommended against using cannabis while pregnant, chiefly because of known and unknown fetal effects. Concerns for maternal effects focus on smoking or vaping risks, not mental health.

The study identified 249 084 hospitalised pregnant patients with cannabis use disorder, who were classified into three sub-groups: those with cannabis use disorder only; those with use disorders for cannabis and other controlled substances; and those with cannabis use disorder and other non-controlled substances (alcohol, tobacco). Data was matched against equivalent patients without any substance use disorders.

Mood disorders more common
Researchers found that those with the cannabis condition were more likely to be younger (ages 15 to 24), Black non-Hispanic, and to not have private insurance.

Researchers analysed patients records for depression, anxiety, trauma, and ADHD, and a broader category of mood-related disorders. Medical conditions measured included chronic pain, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, nausea, and vomiting.

All disorder sub-groups had elevated rates of nearly every factor studied. Patients with cannabis use disorder alone had triple the levels of depression and anxiety than patients with no use conditions. Mood-related disorders affected 58% of those with cannabis use disorder compared to 5% without.

“The least other substance use you have, the more that cannabis use makes a difference,” Dr Lugo-Candelas said. “That’s really striking.”

High levels of were also seen in the cannabis use disorder hospitalisations, but whether that was due to patients using cannabis to mitigate nausea, or due to cannabis use, which can cause a vomiting syndrome, or a symptom of pregnancy is unknown. Study co-author Angélica Meinhofer, PhD, assistant professor of population health sciences at Weill Cornell Medicine, noted that many states allow medical use of cannabis for nausea and vomiting.

While screening for cannabis during pregnancy could help, doctors could be reluctant to ask about use due to mandatory reporting rules. Patient education could help get them treatment earlier, especially with co-occurring psychiatric problems.

“Hopefully these findings will motivate better conversations between pregnant patients and their health care providers,” said Meinhofer.

The authors stress they aren’t arguing for or against cannabis use in pregnancy. Research on prenatal effects of the disorder is still largely lacking, though frequent use has been linked to low birth weight and other adverse outcomes. Their study, the researchers say, instead underscores the need to further explore the disorder and its links to psychiatric and medical conditions.

The increase of cannabis use by pregnant patients demands immediate investigation. “This is a population that’s showing a level of distress that is very, very high,” said Dr Lugo-Candelas. “Care and attention need to be rolled out.”

Source: Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Many Breast Cancer Patients Don’t Discuss Cannabis Use with Docs

Photo by Crystalweed Cannabis on Unsplash

About half of US adults with breast cancer use cannabis as an adjunct to cancer treatment for symptom and side effect management. However, most don’t discuss their use of cannabis with their physicians, according to a new study.

Pain, fatigue, nausea, and other difficulties often arise from cancer and its treatment, and some patients turn to cannabis for relief of their symptoms. However, many physicians feel that they lack the necessary knowledge to discuss cannabis with their patients. Such knowledge is especially important now that cannabis use is becoming more widespread.

In a study published in CANCER, researchers reported the results of an anonymous online survey to examine cannabis use among adults who were diagnosed with breast cancer within five years and were members of the Breastcancer.org and Healthline.com online health communities.

The findings revealed that:

  • Of the 612 participants, 42% reported using cannabis for relief of symptoms, including pain, insomnia, anxiety, stress, and nausea/vomiting. Among those who used cannabis, 75% reported that it was extremely or very helpful at relieving their symptoms.
  • Nearly half (49%) of participants who used cannabis believed that medical cannabis can be used to treat cancer itself; however, its effectiveness against cancer is unclear.
  • Among those using cannabis, 79% had used it during treatment, which included systemic therapies, radiation, and surgery.
  • Participants reported using a wide range of different cannabis products known to vary in quality and purity.
  • Half of participants sought information on medical cannabis, and websites and other patients were ranked as the most helpful sources of information. Physicians ranked low on the list.
  • Among those who sought information on cannabis use for medical purposes, most were unsatisfied with the information they received.
  • Most participants believed cannabis products to be safe and were unaware that the safety of many products is untested.

“Our study highlights an important opportunity for providers to initiate informed conversations about medical cannabis with their patients, as the evidence shows that many are using medical cannabis without our knowledge or guidance,” said lead author Marisa Weiss, MD, of Breastcancer.org and Lankenau Medical Center near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. “Not knowing whether or not our cancer patients are using cannabis is a major blind spot in our ability to provide optimal care, and as healthcare providers, we need to do a better job of initiating informed conversations about medical cannabis with our patients to make sure their symptoms and side effects are being adequately managed while minimising the risk of potential adverse effects, treatment interactions, or non-adherence to standard treatments due to misinformation about the use of medical cannabis to treat cancer.”

Dr Weiss added that patients should never use cannabis as an alternative to standard cancer treatment, and clinicians should inform patients about the safe and effective use of cannabis as an adjunct to their cancer treatment plan.

Source: Wiley

Cannabis Use Linked to Increased Mental Health Risk

Photo by Harrison Haines on Pexels

Individuals with a history of using cannabis have a much greater risk of developing mental health problems including anxiety and depression, as well as more severe mental illnesses, according to new research.

The findings indicate the need to emphasise the importance of general practitioners to continue enquiring about recreational drug use.

While there is extensive research linking cannabis use to severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and psychosis, associations are less clear between cannabis use as described in patient’s GP records and mental health problems such as anxiety.

In a new study, published in Psychological Medicine, researchers reported a strong link between general practice recorded cannabis use and mental ill health in one of the largest cohorts ever studied.

Senior author Dr Clara Humpston said: “Cannabis is often considered to be one of the ‘safer’ drugs and has also shown promise in medical therapies, leading to calls for it be legalised globally. Although we are unable to establish a direct causal relationship, our findings suggest we should continue to exercise caution since the notion of cannabis being a safe drug may well be mistaken.”

Dr Joht Singh Chandan said: “The research reaffirms the need to ensure a public health approach to recreational drug use continues to be adopted across the UK. We must continue to progress measures to improve the prevention and detection of drug use as well as implement the appropriate supportive measures in an equitable manner to prevent the secondary negative health consequences.”

Drawing on primary care data from the IQVIA Medical Research Database (IMRD-UK), analysis showed that following the first recorded use of cannabis, patients were three times more likely to develop common mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. In addition, they were almost 7 times more likely to develop severe mental illnesses such as psychosis or schizophrenia.

The dataset included records from 787 GP practices gathered between 1995 and 2018. The researchers were able to include data from 28 218 patients with a recorded exposure to cannabis. These were matched to 56 208 patients who had not been using cannabis and controlled for factors such as sex and age.

The cannabis users also had much higher rates of having a recorded history of using other drugs such as heroin, cocaine and amphetamines. The next steps will be to investigate levels of cannabis use or the potency of ingredients.

Source: University of Birmingham

Briefly Quitting Cannabis Can Reduce its Genetic Effects in Sperm

Photo by Grav on Unsplash

While cannabis use may impact some autism-linked genes in men’s sperm, briefly quitting cannabis over time may significantly lower many of those effects, according to a new study.

This study, published online in Environmental Epigenetics, followed several other studies at Duke University that linked cannabis use to epigenetic changes (alteration of expression without changing genes) present in sperm, including genes in early development.

This new study aimed to find out if cannabis abstinence could reduce such epigenetic changes. The results showed marijuana users who stopped using cannabis for 77 days produced sperm lacking most of the significant changes found when the men were actively using cannabis.
Study author Susan Murphy, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Duke University School of Medicine, said the results may suggest that marijuana abstinence could result in washout of sperm with the drug’s epigenetic effects. More research is needed for lingering epigenetic effects after abstinence, but there are immediate implications for some.

“Stopping cannabis use for as long as possible – at least for a 74-day period before trying to conceive – would be a good idea,” she said. “If someone is really serious about that, I would say to stop cannabis use for as long as possible prior to conception – meaning multiple spermatogenic cycles.”

“Is it going to fix everything? Probably not,” Prof Murphy said. “We know there are other epigenetic changes that emerged in the ‘after’ sample that we don’t understand yet – and some of those changes are troubling, like an enrichment of other genes related to autism. But it does appear that the things that were the most severely affected in the ‘before’ sample seem to be mitigated by the abstinence period in the ‘after’ samples.”

The study took a baseline sperm sample from marijuana users and non-marijuana users, then followed both groups as the marijuana-using group abstained from cannabis for 77 days – a period spanning the average time it takes for a sperm to mature, which is 74 days. Researchers collected a second sample from both groups after the 77-day period.

During baseline tests, the marijuana-consuming group produced sperm with changes in line with previous studies, which showed altered epigenetic information, including changes in genes linked to early development and neurodevelopmental disorders. With a 77-day abstinence period, this same group was able to produce sperm that had far less altered epigenetic information at the same genes.

The post-abstinence sample was also much more in line with the samples produced by the non-cannabis-using control group.

Prof Murphy says further research is needed to see if the remaining epigenetic changes observed in the sperm of cannabis consumers, when they abstain, carry over into development after fertilisation.

“We don’t know yet whether the alterations that we’re seeing are at genes that have a stable characteristic,” she said, “or if they are in genes that get reprogrammed and really are going to be of no consequence to the child.”

In any case, Prof Murphy says this work is not about legalisation, rather about giving people the power to make informed decisions for themselves.

“I think that we deserve to know what the biological consequences are so that if you are planning to have a child, or even for your own health, you can make an informed decision about whether you want to use it and when, and that’s not really an option right now because we don’t know what it does,” Prof Murphy said.

Source: Duke University

Review Looks at The Evidence for Cannabis in Paediatric Epilepsies

Photo by Crystalweed Cannabis on Unsplash

A review published in Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology investigates the knowledge base of cannabis-based medicinal products in paediatric epilepsies, highlighting areas in need of additional research.

Following reports in the media of children with epilepsies apparently deriving benefits from medical marijuana (or cannabis-based medicinal products) accessed abroad, the UK government allowed clinicians to prescribe these products. A previous review found that there was some benefit in certain drug-resistant epilepsies in children.

In the review, the authors also looked at the prescribing environment surrounding these products. They found that the major obstacle to prescribing is a lack of quality evidence for efficacy and safety.
The authors stress that unlicensed cannabis-based medicinal products should not circumvent the usual regulatory requirements before being prescribed. They are also concerned that children with epilepsy are at risk of being exploited as a “Trojan horse” for the cannabis industry, with widespread acceptance of medicinal cannabis accelerating the wider legalisation of marijuana and opening up a highly lucrative commercial market.

Source: News-Medical.Net

Prenatal CBD and THC Stunts Prozac Responsiveness in Offspring

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Scientists have found that significant amounts of THC and CBD, the two main components of cannabis enter the embryonic brain of mice in utero and impair the mice’s ability as adults to respond to fluoxetine (Prozac).

The study suggests that when the developing brain is exposed to THC or CBD, normal interactions between endocannabinoid and serotonin signaling may be diminished as exposed individuals become adults.

“Hemp-derived CBD is a legal substance in the US, and we are in a time of increasing state-level legalisation of cannabis. Therefore, use of cannabis components have increased across most levels of society, including among pregnant women. The study marks the beginning of an effort to understand the effects of THC and CBD on the endogenous cannabinoid system (ECS) in the developing brain and body,” explained Hui-Chen Lu, director of the Linda and Jack Gill Center and professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences.

Researchers studied four groups of pregnant mice. Some received daily moderate doses of either THC, CBD, or a combination of equal parts THC and CBD; a control group had placebo injections throughout pregnancy. Using mass spectrometry, IU psychological and brain sciences professor Heather Bradshaw tested embryos and found that CBD and THC both could cross the placenta and reach the embryonic brain.

“The surprising part is that maternal exposure to CBD alone — a drug that is often considered as safe and harmless and is a popular ‘natural’ therapy for morning sickness — resulted in a lasting impact on adult mice offspring,” Lu said. “Both prenatal THC and CBD exposure impaired the adult’s ability to respond to fluoxetine. The results suggest taking a cautious approach to using CBD during pregnancy.”

There is however some evidence for CBD’s effectiveness in treating chronic pain and anxiety, though currently the only FDA-approved indication for CBD is the treatment of severe seizure disorders.

“We still know very little about the effects of CBD on the developing brain,” Prof Lu said.

The new paper is one of the first studies to see the potential negative impact of CBD on the developing brain and later behaviours. However observational studies in the 1980s saw increased anxiety and depression in offspring of mothers who used the lower-strength cannabis available at the time. Since women may take cannabis products for nausea and vomiting, this has relevance for public health awareness.

Study co-author Ken Mackie, Gill Chair of Neuroscience at IU Bloomington, said researchers know that prenatal cannabis exposure may increase the risk for anxiety and depression, so it is important to evaluate the response to a class of drug used to treat anxiety and depression.

Though normal mouse behaviours were seen in many tests, one test — to determine their response to stress — had a strongly atypical result. In all groups, the mice responded normally to a stressful situation. As expected, fluoxetine increased stress resilience in mice whose mothers had received the placebo. However, the drug was ineffective in mice whose mothers had received THC, CBD or their combination.

Fluoxetine works by increasing the amount of serotonin available at brain synapses, an effect known to require the endocannabinoid system. This internal system of receptors, enzymes and molecules both mediates the effects of cannabis and plays a role in regulating various bodily systems, such as appetite, mood, stress and chronic pain.

To test if maternal exposure to THC and/or CBD impaired endocannabinoid signaling in the adult offspring, the researchers tested whether boosting the ECS with a drug would restore fluoxetine’s effectiveness. They found that the ECS boosting restored normal fluoxetine responses in mice that had received THC or CBD while their brains were developing.

Source: Indiana University

Journal reference: de Sousa Maciel, I., et al. (2021) Perinatal CBD or THC Exposure Results in Lasting Resistance to Fluoxetine in the Forced Swim Test: Reversal by Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase Inhibition. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. doi.org/10.1089/can.2021.0015.

The Delicate Balance of the Endocannibinoid Pathway

Photo by CRYSTALWEED cannabis on Unsplash

Scientists have uncovered an unexpected link between a synapse protein that has been implicated in neuropsychiatric disorders and the endocannabinoid pathway.

These findings suggest a role for the endocannabinoid system in conditions including bipolar disorder, according to Peter Penzes, PhD, the Ruth and Evelyn Dunbar Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, professor of Physiology and Pharmacology, and senior author of the study.

“The endocannabinoid system could be disrupted in patients with bipolar disease, or it could be the opposite: medical marijuana could have therapeutic potential for these patients,” said Prof Penzes, who is also director of the Center for Autism and Neurodevelopment. “These are the questions that need to be answered.”

Cannabis mimics naturally occurring endocannabinoids in the brain, which is how it produces its effect in humans. Since the specific function of endocannabinoids is still not fully understood, the legalisation of marijuana in many US states has prompted more investigation into its biological pathways, Prof Penzes said. The endocannabinoid system is a widespread neuromodulatory system that plays important roles in central nervous system (CNS) development, synaptic plasticity, and the response to endogenous and environmental insults.

Endocannabinoids are produced by an enzyme known as diacylglycerol lipase alpha (DAGLA), which is concentrated in synapses. Endocannabinoids dampen synaptic strength, which is why marijuana has calming effects.

Prof Penzes and colleagues have previously studied ankyrin-G, another synapse protein which regulates transmission speed across synapses. Aberrant over- or under-expression of ankyrin-G has been associated with disorders such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and autism.

Studying mice with ankyrin-G genetically deleted, they made a surprising discovery: Ankyrin-G seemed to stabilise DAGLA at synapses, increasing the efficiency of DAGLA.

“It’s a delicate mechanism that regulates dendritic spine morphology,” said lead author Sehyoun Yoon, PhD, research assistant professor of Physiology.

These findings comport with another recent study, led by investigators at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and published in Nature Genetics. The study showed that both DAGLA and ankyrin-G (ANK3) are risk genes for bipolar disorder in a genome analysis of over 40,000 patients.

“It’s almost like somebody who is leading a double life, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Prof Penzes said. “Ankyrin-G has this entire separate function.”

The convergence of ankyrin-G with the endocannabinoid pathway opens up an entire new world of possibilities, both for investigating disease risk and possible therapies.

“Cannabis may contribute to increased risk for mental disorders, which has actually been shown in schizophrenia,” Prof Penzes said. “Conversely, cannabis could be beneficial in some brain disorders, which prompted trials of medical marijuana in patients with autism.”

Prof Penzes said in future he plans to examine the downstream effects of this biological pathway, both in normal subjects and in disease.

Source: Northwestern University

Journal information: Sehyoun Yoon et al, cAMP Signaling–Mediated Phosphorylation of Diacylglycerol Lipase α Regulates Interaction With Ankyrin-G and Dendritic Spine Morphology, Biological Psychiatry (2021). DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2021.03.023