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Better Think Twice About Spice: Synthetic Cannabis’ Impact on Brain Health

Summary: A new study reports on the dangers of using synthetic cannabis products on a person’s brain and general health.

Source: University of Tsukuba.

Marijuana is the most commonly abused drug in the world, and the advent of synthetic cannabinoids creates additional challenges to the society because of their higher potency and ability to escape drug detection screenings. Scientists from Japanese sleep institute have a warning for the society about a danger coming from cannabinoid abuse.

Research led by Olga Malyshevskaya and Yoshihiro Urade of International Institute for Integrative Sleep Medicine (WPI-IIIS), University of Tsukuba, discovered that seizures, a life-threatening condition, can be induced by natural Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC, main constituent of marijuana) or the synthetic cannabinoid JWH-018 (main component of synthetic blend “Spice”) in mice. This was demonstrated by continuous recording of animals’ electric brain activity (electroencephalogram, EEG), video and movement activity tracking. Based on their data they propose potential treatment in case of cannabinoid overdose with the cannabinoid-1-receptor (CB1R) specific antagonist (AM-251), because in their study pretreatment prevented cannabinoid-induced seizures.

“Our study is quite important because unaware of the particularly severe effect by those cannabinoids, people see marijuana as a soft drug, without dangerous health effects,” Malyshevskaya says. Use of synthetic cannabinoids and the associated complications in humans are on the rise and spreading all-over the world. People are synthesizing different variants of cannabinoids to evade regulatory agents, producing structures with minimal information on their pharmacology and potential harm.

Image shows a packet of spice.

Considering the recent irreversible spread of synthetic cannabinoids and their impact on human health, their data should serve as a public alert. NeuroscienceNews.com image is credited to the DEA and is in the public domain.

Considering the recent irreversible spread of synthetic cannabinoids and their impact on human health, their data should serve as a public alert. It is critically important for health-care professionals and policy makers to be aware of the serious adverse effects, as shown in this report. Clinicians in the emergency departments should always suspect seizure activity in patients who have a history of cannabinoid intoxication. The number of clinical cases involving marijuana intoxication has been steadily increasing due to increase in cannabis potency over the last two decades.

Reflecting the scientific debate on the action of cannabinoids, there are numerous disputes regarding the legal status of marijuana. As several governments proceed with legalization for both medical and recreational use, there will always be public health concerns, as marijuana overdose often results in direct adverse reactions.

About this neuroscience research article

Source: Joseph Caputo – University of Tsukuba
Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is credited to the DEA and is in the public domain.
Original Research: Full open access research for “Natural (∆9-THC) and synthetic (JWH-018) cannabinoids induce seizures by acting through the cannabinoid CB1 receptor” by Olga Malyshevskaya, Kosuke Aritake, Mahesh K. Kaushik, Nahoko Uchiyama, Yoan Cherasse, Ruri Kikura-Hanajiri & Yoshihiro Urade in Scientific Reports. Published online September 22 2017 doi:10.1038/s41598-017-10447-2

Cite This NeuroscienceNews.com Article
University of Tsukuba “Better Think Twice About Spice: Synthetic Cannabis’ Impact on Brain Health.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 22 September 2017.
<http://neurosciencenews.com/spice-neurology-cannabis-7552/>.
University of Tsukuba (2017, September 22). Better Think Twice About Spice: Synthetic Cannabis’ Impact on Brain Health. NeuroscienceNews. Retrieved September 22, 2017 from http://neurosciencenews.com/spice-neurology-cannabis-7552/
University of Tsukuba “Better Think Twice About Spice: Synthetic Cannabis’ Impact on Brain Health.” http://neurosciencenews.com/spice-neurology-cannabis-7552/ (accessed September 22, 2017).

Abstract

Natural (∆9-THC) and synthetic (JWH-018) cannabinoids induce seizures by acting through the cannabinoid CB1 receptor

Natural cannabinoids and their synthetic substitutes are the most widely used recreational drugs. Numerous clinical cases describe acute toxic symptoms and neurological consequences following inhalation of the mixture of synthetic cannabinoids known as “Spice.” Here we report that an intraperitoneal administration of the natural cannabinoid Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (10 mg/kg), one of the main constituent of marijuana, or the synthetic cannabinoid JWH-018 (2.5 mg/kg) triggered electrographic seizures in mice, recorded by electroencephalography and videography. Administration of JWH-018 (1.5, 2.5 and 5 mg/kg) increased seizure spikes dose-dependently. Pretreatment of mice with AM-251 (5 mg/kg), a cannabinoid receptor 1-selective antagonist, completely prevented cannabinoid-induced seizures. These data imply that abuse of cannabinoids can be dangerous and represents an emerging public health threat. Additionally, our data strongly suggest that AM-251 could be used as a crucial prophylactic therapy for cannabinoid-induced seizures or similar life-threatening conditions.

“Natural (∆9-THC) and synthetic (JWH-018) cannabinoids induce seizures by acting through the cannabinoid CB1 receptor” by Olga Malyshevskaya, Kosuke Aritake, Mahesh K. Kaushik, Nahoko Uchiyama, Yoan Cherasse, Ruri Kikura-Hanajiri & Yoshihiro Urade in Scientific Reports. Published online September 22 2017 doi:10.1038/s41598-017-10447-2

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