AsianScientist (Sep. 26, 2017) – The dangers of cannabinoid abuse have been exposed by researchers in Japan who identified compounds in natural and synthetic marijuana that cause life-threatening seizures. The researchers report their findings in the journal Scientific Reports.
Marijuana is the most commonly abused drug in the world, and the advent of synthetic cannabinoids creates additional challenges to society because of their higher potency and ability to escape drug detection screenings. There is currently minimal information on the pharmacology and potential harm of synthetic cannabinoids. As several governments proceed with legalization of cannabinoids for both medical and recreational use, studies on the adverse side-effects of canniboids are warranted.
In this study, a team of researchers led by Professors Olga Malyshevskaya and Yoshihiro Urade of the International Institute for Integrative Sleep Medicine at the 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 video monitoring and movement activity tracking of mice, alongside continuous recording of the animals’ electrical brain activity when exposed to the compounds. Based on their data, the researchers proposed a potential preventive measure against cannabinoid overdose. The pretreatment of mice with a cannabinoid-1-receptor specific antagonist, AM-251, prevented cannabinoid-induced seizures.
“Our study is quite important because people see marijuana as a soft drug and are unaware of the particularly severe effects caused by those cannabinoids,” said Malyshevskaya.
Considering the recent irreversible spread of synthetic cannabinoids and their impact on human health, this data should serve as a public health alert, informing the decision-making of healthcare professionals and policy makers. Clinicians in the emergency departments of hospitals should therefore suspect seizure activity in patients who have a history of cannabinoid intoxication.
The article can be found at: Malyshevskaya et al. (2017) Natural (∆ 9 -THC) and Synthetic (JWH-018) Cannabinoids Induce Seizures by Acting Through the Cannabinoid CB1 Receptor.
Source: University of Tsukuba; Photo: Pixabay.
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