Molecular imaging shows chronic marijuana smoking affects brain chemistry
Definitive proof of an adverse effect of chronic marijuana use revealed at SNM's 58th Annual Meeting could lead to potential drug treatments and aid other research involved in cannabinoid receptors, a neurotransmission system receiving a lot of attention. Scientists used molecular imaging to visualize changes in the brains of heavy marijuana smokers versus non-smokers and found that abuse of the drug led to a decreased number of cannabinoid CB1 receptors, which are involved in not just pleasure, appetite and pain tolerance but a host of other psychological and physiological functions of the body.
"Addictions are a major medical and socioeconomic problem," says Jussi Hirvonen, MD, PhD, lead author of the collaborative study between the National Institute of Mental Health and National Institute on Drug Abuse, Bethesda, Md. "Unfortunately, we do not fully understand the neurobiological mechanisms involved in addiction. With this study, we were able to show for the first time that people who abuse cannabis have abnormalities of the cannabinoid receptors in the brain. This information may prove critical for the development of novel treatments for cannabis abuse. Furthermore, this research shows that the decreased receptors in people who abuse cannabis return to normal when they stop smoking the drug."
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana is the number-one illicit drug of choice in America. The psychoactive chemical in marijuana, or cannabis, is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which binds to numerous cannabinoid receptors in the brain and throughout the body when smoked or ingested, producing a distinctive high. Cannabinoid receptors in the brain influence a range of mental states and actions, including pleasure, concentration, perception of time and memory, sensory perception, and coordination of movement. There are also cannabinoid receptors throughout the body involved in a wide range of functions of the digestive, cardiovascular, respiratory and other systems of the body. Currently two subtypes of cannabinoid receptors are known, CB1 and CB2, the former being involved mostly in functions of the central nervous system and the latter more in functions of the immune system and in stem cells of the circulatory system.
For this study, researchers recruited 30 chronic daily cannabis smokers who were then monitored at a closed inpatient facility for approximately four weeks. The subjects were imaged using positron emission tomography (PET), which provides information about physiological processes in the body. Subjects were injected with a radioligand, 18F-FMPEP-d2, which is a combination of a radioactive fluorine isotope and a neurotransmitter analog that binds with CB1 brain receptors.
Results of the study show that receptor number was decreased about 20 percent in brains of cannabis smokers when compared to healthy control subjects with limited exposure to cannabis during their lifetime. These changes were found to have a correlation with the number of years subjects had smoked. Of the original 30 cannabis smokers, 14 of the subjects underwent a second PET scan after about a month of abstinence. There was a marked increase in receptor activity in those areas that had been decreased at the outset of the study, an indication that while chronic cannabis smoking causes downregulation of CB1 receptors, the damage is reversible with abstinence.
Information gleaned from this and future studies may help other research exploring the role of PET imaging of CB1 receptorsnot just for drug use, but also for a range of human diseases, including metabolic disease and cancer.
More information: Scientific Paper 10: J. Hirvonen, R. Goodwin, C. Li1, G. Terry, S. Zoghbi, C Morse, V. Pike, N. Volkow, M. Huestis, R. Innis, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, MD; National Institute on Drug Abuse, Baltimore, MD; "Reversible and regionally selective downregulation of brain cannabinoid CB1 receptors in chronic daily cannabis smokers," SNM's 58th Annual Meeting, June 4-8, 2011, San Antonio, TX.
Provided by Society of Nuclear Medicine
- Cannabis could hold the key to ending multiple sclerosis misery Apr 02, 2007 | not rated yet | 0
- Cannabinoid-blocking weight-loss drug might fight alcoholic fatty liver Mar 04, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Weeding out the highs of medical marijuana Jul 15, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Endogenous cannabinoids linked to fetal brain damage imposed by maternal cannabis use May 24, 2007 | not rated yet | 0
- Pot shot: Scientists find cannabis trigger for forgetfulness Aug 02, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Why is zone 1 in liver more prone to ischemic injury?
May 23, 2013 Hi, Is it because around central vein, there is only deoxygenated blood from the vein where as in the periphery there is hepatic artery. Also why...
How can there be villous adenoma in colon, if there are no villi there
May 22, 2013 As title suggest. Thanks :smile:
How can there be a term called "intestinal metaplasia" of stomach
May 21, 2013 Hello everyone, Ok Stomach's normal epithelium is simple columnar, now in intestinal type of adenocarcinoma of stomach it undergoes "intestinal...
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
May 18, 2013 From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
New research presented today shows that formation of new neurons in the hippocampus - a brain region known for its importance in learning and remembering - could cause forgetting of old memories by causing a reorganization ...
Neuroscience May 24, 2013 | 4 / 5 (4) | 0
How can healthy people who hear voices help schizophrenics? Finding the answer for this is at the centre of research conducted at the University of Bergen.
Neuroscience May 24, 2013 | 4 / 5 (2) | 2
One of the major frontiers of modern science is a comprehensive understanding of the human brain and its functions to guide the development of new technologies in information and communication. In a major announcement for ...
Neuroscience May 24, 2013 | 3.7 / 5 (3) | 0
(Medical Xpress)—Regulating the distribution of power in neurons is done by a system that makes the national electric grid look simple by comparison. Each neuron has several thousand mitochondria confined ...
Neuroscience May 23, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (10) | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—The human brain is able to identify individuals' voices by comparing them against an internal 'average voice' prototype, according to neuroscientists.
Neuroscience May 23, 2013 | 3.7 / 5 (3) | 3 |
Coenzyme Q10 decreases all cause mortality by half, according to the results of a multicentre randomised double blind trial presented today at Heart Failure 2013 congress. It is the first drug to improve heart failure mortality ...
16 hours ago | 5 / 5 (2) | 5
(HealthDay)—Animals make great companions for senior citizens, but elderly people who always drive with a pet in the car are far more likely to crash than those who never drive with a pet, researchers have ...
7 hours ago | not rated yet | 1
Heart failure accelerates the aging process and brings on early andropausal syndrome (AS), according to research presented today at the Heart Failure Congress 2013. AS, also referred to as male 'menopause', was four times ...
15 hours ago | not rated yet | 1
Mortality and length of stay are highest in heart failure patients admitted in January, on Friday, and overnight, according to research presented today at the Heart Failure Congress 2013. The analysis of nearly 1 million ...
15 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
(AP)—Department of Justice lawyers have again asked a federal appeals court in New York to delay lifting age restrictions and prescription requirements on an emergency contraceptive popularly known as the morning-after ...
15 hours ago | not rated yet | 0