Cannabinoid Exposure in Rat Adolescence Reprograms the Initial Behavioral, Molecular, and Epigenetic Response to Cocaine


The endocannabinoid system has a modulatory role in brain reward and cognitive processes. It has been hypothesized that repeated interference with endocannabinoid signaling (e.g., through abuse of cannabis or synthetic cannabinoids) can remodel the adolescent brain and make it respond differently to more addictive substances, such as cocaine. In the present study, we demonstrate that a history of synthetic cannabinoid exposure in adolescent animals results in distinct molecular and epigenetic changes following initial exposure to cocaine. These changes were pronounced in the prefrontal cortex and associated with an enhanced response to cocaine’s stimulatory effects. The prefrontal cortex is a brain region that still undergoes maturation in adolescence and its dysfunction contributes to the development of addictions.

Scherma, M., Qvist, J. S., Asok, A., Shao-shan, C. H., Masia, P., Deidda, M., ... & Kandel, E. R. (2020). Cannabinoid exposure in rat adolescence reprograms the initial behavioral, molecular, and epigenetic response to cocaine. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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