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"Adolescent THC Exposure Alters Neurons/Gene Networks Associated With Psychosis Risk"

  • Medical Xpress
  • New York, NY
  • (October 18, 2018)

Young adults with exposure to THC (the psychoactive component of cannabis) during adolescence have alterations in the structure of neurons and gene expression within these brain cells, which are critical for maintaining synaptic plasticity in the prefrontal cortex, a brain region that mediates decision-making and other cognitive functions. The findings demonstrate that adolescent THC exposure can induce long-term structural changes, thus altering the developmental trajectory of adult cortical cells along with altering gene networks that are similarly disturbed in individuals suffering from schizophrenia. Yasmin Hurd, PhD, director of the Center for Addictive Disorders at the Mount Sinai Health System said, “The study emphasizes that cannabis, particularly THC-prominent strains, has the capacity for long-term effects into adulthood, even after the drug is no longer in the body. These findings have important implications for the changing sociopolitical discussions regarding the recreational use of marijuana. The ability of THC to change the actual shape of developing neurons that are well-known to be essential for normal cortical communication is alarming.”

- Yasmin Hurd, PhD, Professor, Psychiatry, Neuroscience, Pharmacology, Systems Therapeutics, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Chair, Ward-Coleman Translational Neuroscience, Director of the Center for Addictive Disorders, Mount Sinai Health System

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