By / September 13, 2019

Cannabis use connected with heritable changes in autism

Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit psychoactive drug in the US. This is a systematic review and meta-analysis on prenatal exposure to cannabis and child health outcomes when it comes to autism.

In the US, 11 states and Washington D.C. have legalized the recreational use of cannabis. Furthermore, 33 states have legalized the use of medical cannabis.

Variations in potency and prices in a newly legal market

Evidence is coming in from over 30 million cannabis sales in Washington state alone. Illinois just became the first state to legalize marijuana sales through the legislature. Since 1995, cannabis potency consistently rises from 4% to as high as 32% in some states.

Changes in cannabis potency over the last 2 decades had some problems. Cannabis potency accompanies changes in attitudes about cannabis. The percentage of adults in the U.S. who perceived cannabis use negatively declined from 50% to 33%. Furthermore, the percentage of US adults who believed cannabis to have no risk rose from 6% to 15. 52.5% of men in the U.S. of reproductive age have reported cannabis use at some point in their lives.

smoking cannabis
33 states in the U.S.have legalized the use of medical cannabis as well. (Source)

Marijuana dependence and its treatment

Many studies focus on the effects of marijuana use. However, they are also focusing on the effects of use on the health and development of offspring. Prenatal cannabis exposure via maternal use during pregnancy is a connection with decreased infant birth weight.

There is the potential for an impaired fetal immune system compared to those infants who are not exposed during gestation. Prenatal exposure to cannabis and maternal and child health outcomes. A systematic review and meta-analysis.

Exposing rat pups to THC had increased heroin-seeking behavior later in life. A phenotype that was together by epigenetic changes in the nucleus accumbens. Therefore, these studies and others have begun to highlight the potential for inter-generational consequences of cannabis. However, identifying the mechanism that underlies these changes is critical, as cannabis use continues to increase across the U.S.

The DLGAP2 intron 7 region

Discs-Large Associated Protein 2 exhibited significant hypomethylation in the sperm of cannabis-exposed men. Dysregulation of DLGAP2 has a connection with various neurological and psychiatric disorders.

The DLGAP family: neuronal expression, play a function in brain disorders. In our prior screen, we identified 17 differentially methylated CpG sites. Within DLGAP2 in the sperm of cannabis-exposed men compared to controls. DLGAP2 was just one of 46 genes with greater than 10 CpG sites. They were showing significantly altered DNA methylation in the sperm of cannabis users compared to controls.

Prenatal cannabis exposure via maternal use during pregnancy is connected with decreased infant birth weight. (Source)

Study objectives

The first objective of this study was to validate our preliminary RRBS findings for DLGAP2. It was with the use of quantitative bisulfite pyrosequencing. Our second objective was to determine the functional association between DNA methylation and gene expression of DLGAP2.

This is to better understand how cannabis use might affect this relationship.

(Featured Image by GRAS GRUN)

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