Wellness

Cannabis in adolescence: anxiety disorders in adulthood

A new study in mice has shown that exposure to cannabis and stress during adolescence can lead to long-term anxiety disorders. Disorders characterized by the presence of pathological fear.

The work carried out by the NeuroPhar Neuropharmacology Laboratory of the Pompeu Fabra University in Spain, has been published in the journal Neuropharmacology.

World’s most abused illicit drug

Cannabis remains the most widely used illicit drug in the world. Its regular use often begins in adolescence, which is particularly troubling, as this period is crucial for the brain to mature properly through the reorganization of neuronal synapses.

Risk of onset of psychiatric illnesses in adulthood

Numerous preclinical and epidemiological data suggest that exposure to cannabinoids in adolescents may increase the risk of developing psychiatric diseases in adulthood such as schizophrenia. A recent study shows that, in recent years, the perception of the risk associated with cannabis use has declined among young people, aged 12 to 17, the age group examined in this article.

No more “extinguishing fear”

“In this research, we investigated the effects of simultaneous exposure to Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is primarily responsible for the psychoactive properties of cannabis and stress during adolescence,” explained M.Rocio Saravia and M. Marc Ten-Blanco, first authors of the article. Specifically, they investigated how this exposure during adolescence affects fear memory extinction in adult mice.

To do this, a stimulus that should be neutral, as could be the case, for example, by seeing the dentist in a white coat, is associated with a threatening stimulus, which would be the pain that we have felt during previous visits to the dentist. dentist, and which provokes a reaction of fear. Normally, fear responses diminish over time as the conditioned stimulus ceases to be associated with the negative experience. This is called the extinction of fear. But when the extinction of fear does not occur properly, anxiety disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias or panic attacks appear.

Stress, an aggravating factor

“We observed that adolescent mice treated with THC and exposed to stress exhibited impaired fear extinction in adulthood. However, this effect was not observed in animals exposed separately to these same two factors”, explains Mr. Fernando Berrendero. Moreover, resistance to fear extinction was associated with decreased neural activity in the basolateral amygdala and infralimbic prefrontal cortex, suggesting long-term dysregulation of the fear regulatory circuit.

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“Our results highlight the influence of environmental factors such as stress on the harmful effects of cannabis exposure in early childhood and suggest that the consequences of early cannabis use are largely dependent on the environment of its recipient. use”, adds Mr. Rafael Maldonado, Full Professor of Pharmacology at FPU. “The presence of stressful situations, common among users of this substance, can aggravate the harmful effects of cannabis,” he concludes.

Source
Saravia R Concomitant THC and adolescent stress exposure induces impaired fear extinction and related neurobiological changes in adulthood. Neuropharmacology

[HighProtein-Foods.com]

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