John Hopkins Medicine researchers say they have uncovered a possible explanation for how marijuana may damage the brains of some human teens. They did a study on adolescent mice, with a version of a gene linked to serious human mental illnesses. They are continuing to build on the knowledge that only a select population of teen marijuana consumers have later cognitive problems.
John Hopkins Medicine researchers say they have uncovered a possible explanation for how marijuana may damage the brains of some human teens. They did a marijuana consumption study on adolescent mice, with a version of a gene linked to serious human mental illnesses.
In a report of the journal Biological Psychiatry, the researchers say they showed that pot exposure increases inflammation in a specific type of brain cell. They tested adolescent mice that carry a rare genetic mutation linked to schizophrenia and other major psychiatric disorders. In a proof-of-concept experiment, the investigators used a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, NS398.
This drug suppresses the pot-induced inflammation in the brain. Furthermore, the researchers report they were able to prevent marijuana’s brain damage in mice that appear genetically susceptible to the harmful effects.
Marijuana and teen use
Building on the knowledge that only a select population of teen marijuana consumers have later cognitive problems. Furthermore, the researchers chose to experiment with a mouse model for psychiatric illnesses that carries a mutation in the DISC1 gene.
“This inflammation we saw in mice and in people who consume marijuana. Our results may help explain why and how some mice and some people are genetically predisposed to this experience. An enhanced inflammatory response and brain damage,” says the report.
The researchers used faulty proteins in their mice
When the mice were about 30 days old, the researchers injected them with 8 milligrams per kilogram every day for three weeks. Then, the researchers stopped the THC exposure for three weeks before testing the mice for behavioral and cognitive deficits.
“Essentially, we let them have their fun as teenagers have enough time elapse to their young adulthood. In human terms, the time when people reach their late 20s, are living an adult life and may begin to notice cognitive problems.”
Conclusions of the test
If our results turn out to be applicable to people, they suggest we could develop safer anti-inflammatory treatments. This all just to prevent long-term consequences of marijuana use. However, researchers add that being able to identify those who are susceptible and preventing them from partaking in marijuana use is another option for protecting teens’ memory.
Furthermore, laboratories are collaborating to expand these studies with other animal models. This is to determine how various genetic vulnerabilities may play a role in marijuana’s effects on the developing brain.
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