Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Endogenous cannabinoids linked to fetal brain damage imposed by maternal cannabis use

A critical step in brain development is governed by endogenous cannabinoids, ‘the brain’s own marijuana’. Studies conducted at Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet, with participation of scientists from Europe and the United States, are now published in Science and show that these endogenous molecules regulate how certain nerve cells recognize each other and form connections. The scientists believe that their findings will significantly advance our understanding of how cannabis smoking during pregnancy may damage the fetal brain.

The formation of connections among nerve cells occurs during a relatively short period in the fetal brain. However, proper wiring of hundreds of millions of cells in our brains determine whether we can think, remember, move, or show emotions throughout our lives. For a nerve cell, recognizing its partners and establish connections with them is the key to survive and contribute to the control of brain functions. The process through which nerve cells recognize each other is guided by specific chemical signals whose availability instructs neurons to target or to ignore specific cells.

Scientists have now identified that endogenous cannabinoids, molecules naturally produced by our brains and functionally similar to THC from cannabis, play unexpectedly significant roles in establishing how certain nerve cells connect to each other. These new and exciting results not only bolster out knowledge on the brain’s normal development but may also take us closer to understanding if and when cannabis damages the fetal brain.

Endogenous cannabinoids use the same mechanism, engaging the CB1 cannabinoid receptor, as THC to exert their effects on nerve cells. Therefore, the finding that endogenous cannabinoids control the establishment of connections amongst certain nerve cells convinces the scientists that they have defined a key mechanism through which maternal cannabis use might impair fetal brain development and impose life-long cognitive, social, and motor deficits in affected offspring.

“Besides identifying a fundamental mechanism in brain development, our findings may provide new perspectives to identifying the molecular changes in the brains of individuals prenatally affected by maternal cannabis abuse”, says Dr. Tibor Harkany who has led the studies. “This is of social impact given the continuous growing use of marijuana, the most common illicit drug, in our society.’’

Earlier studies have already found that children of marijuana-smoking mothers more frequently suffer from permanent cognitive deficits, concentration disorders, hyperactivity, and impaired social interactions than non-exposed children of the same age and social background.

“Hardwiring the Brain: Endocannabinoids Shape Neuronal Connectivity”
Paul Berghius, Ann M Rajnicek, Yury M Morozov, Ruth A Ross, Jan Mulder, Gabriella M Urbán, Krisztina Monory, Giovanni Marsicano, Michela Matteoli, Alison Canty, Andrew J Irving, István Katona, Yuchio Yanagawa, Pasko Rakic, Beat Lutz, Ken Mackie and Tibor Harkany

Science, 25 May 2007

Katarina Sternudd | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht New potential cancer treatment using microwaves to target deep tumors
12.10.2016 | University of Texas at Arlington

nachricht Breakthrough in Mapping Nicotine Addiction Could Help Researchers Improve Treatment
04.10.2016 | UT Southwestern Medical Center

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Innovative technique for shaping light could solve bandwidth crunch

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA's MAVEN mission observes ups and downs of water escape from Mars

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>