Gonadal hormone modulation of the behavioral effects of Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol in male and female rats.Eur J Pharmacol 2008; 578(1):37-42EJ
Female rats are more sensitive than males to many behavioral effects of cannabinoids. The purpose of the present study was to determine if sex differences in the antinociceptive and motoric effects of Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are due to activational effects of gonadal steroid hormones. THC-induced antinociception (tail withdrawal, paw pressure tests) and motoric effects (horizontal locomotion, catalepsy) were compared in male and female gonadectomized rats that were chronically treated with hormone (testosterone in males, estradiol in females) vs. those that were gonadectomized and had no hormone replacement. THC's effects were also compared between gonadally intact females tested during vaginal estrus vs. diestrus. THC (5 and 10 mg/kg i.p.) produced very similar antinociceptive effects in no-hormone vs. testosterone-treated males, but significantly less locomotor suppression in testosterone-treated males than those with no hormone replacement. In gonadectomized females, estradiol enhanced THC's antinociceptive but not motoric effects. In gonadally intact, cycling females, 5 mg/kg THC produced slightly to significantly greater behavioral effects in estrous than in diestrous females. These results suggest that sex differences in THC-induced behavioral effects in the adult rat can be attributed to activational effects of testosterone in males and/or estradiol in females.