Vaporized Δ9-THC in utero results in reduced birthweight, increased locomotion, and altered wake-cycle activity dependent on dose, sex, and diet in the offspring

Nicole M. Roeder, Samantha L. Penman, Brittany J. Richardson, Jia Wang, Lily Freeman-Striegel, Anas Khan, Ojas Pareek, Maia Weiss, Patrick Mohr, Rina D. Eiden, Saptarshi Chakraborty, Panayotis K. Thanos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims: Preclinical studies have found that chronic ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) treatment is directly associated with weight gain when introduced during adolescence and adulthood, but the effect of prenatal THC is unclear. Clinical studies have demonstrated prenatal exposure to THC is a prospective predictor of increased health risks associated with obesity. Our study aims to examine prenatal THC impact on obesity risks in males and females throughout adolescence using a clinically relevant inhalation model. Methods: Pregnant rats were exposed to one of the following from gestational day 2 through birth: 10 mg THC, 40 mg THC, or air. Daily 10-min inhalations were conducted in each animal from 0900 to 1200. Offspring from each treatment group were given either a high-fat diet (HFD) or a normal diet (ND). Food and bodyweights were collected daily, while circadian activity, locomotion, and exercise were measured periodically (PND 21–60). Pregnancy weight gain and birth weight were collected to determine early-life developmental effects. Results: Rats prenatally treated with low-dose THC (LDTHC) generally had lower dark-cycle activity compared with control counterparts, but this altered activity was not observed at the higher dose of THC (HDTHC). In terms of open-field activity, THC doses displayed a general increase in locomotion. In addition, the LDTHC male rats in the ND showed significantly greater exploratory behavior. Prenatal THC had dose-dependent effects on maternal weight gain and birth weight. Conclusions: Overall, our findings indicate there are some activity-related and developmental effects of prenatal THC, which may be related to obesity risks later in life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number122447
JournalLife Sciences
StatePublished - Mar 1 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics

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