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The effects of cannabinoids on serum cortisol and prolactin in humans.
Psychopharmacology (Berl) 2009; 203(4):737-44P

Abstract

BACKGROUND

Cannabis is one of the most widely used illicit substances, and there is growing interest in the therapeutic applications of cannabinoids. While known to modulate neuroendocrine function, the precise acute and chronic dose-related effects of cannabinoids in humans are not well-known. Furthermore, the existing literature on the neuroendocrine effects of cannabinoids is limited by small sample sizes (n = 6-22), heterogeneous samples with regard to cannabis exposure (lumping users and nonusers), lack of controlling for chronic cannabis exposure, differing methodologies, and limited dose-response data. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta-9-THC) was hypothesized to produce dose-related increases in plasma cortisol levels and decreases in plasma prolactin levels. Furthermore, relative to controls, frequent users of cannabis were hypothesized to show altered baseline levels of these hormones and blunted Delta-9-THC-induced changes of these hormones.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

Pooled data from a series of laboratory studies with multiple doses of intravenous Delta-9-THC in healthy control subjects (n = 36) and frequent users of cannabis (n = 40) was examined to characterize the acute, chronic, and acute on chronic effects of cannabinoids on plasma cortisol and prolactin levels. Hormone levels were measured before (baseline) and 70 min after administration of each dose of Delta-9-THC. Data were analyzed using linear mixed models with +70 min hormonal levels as the dependant variable and baseline hormonal level as the covariate.

RESULTS

At socially relevant doses, Delta-9-THC raised plasma cortisol levels in a dose-dependent manner but frequent users showed blunted increases relative to healthy controls. Frequent users also had lower baseline plasma prolactin levels relative to healthy controls.

CONCLUSIONS

These group differences may be related to the development of tolerance to the neuroendocrine effects of cannabinoids. Alternatively, these results may reflect inherent differences in neuroendocrine function in frequent users of cannabis and not a consequence of cannabis use.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Schizophrenia Biological Research Center, VA Connecticut Healthcare System, West Haven, CT, USA. mohini.ranganathan@yale.eduNo affiliation info availableNo affiliation info availableNo affiliation info availableNo affiliation info availableNo affiliation info availableNo affiliation info available

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article
Multicenter Study
Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

Language

eng

PubMed ID

19083209

Citation

Ranganathan, Mohini, et al. "The Effects of Cannabinoids On Serum Cortisol and Prolactin in Humans." Psychopharmacology, vol. 203, no. 4, 2009, pp. 737-44.
Ranganathan M, Braley G, Pittman B, et al. The effects of cannabinoids on serum cortisol and prolactin in humans. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2009;203(4):737-44.
Ranganathan, M., Braley, G., Pittman, B., Cooper, T., Perry, E., Krystal, J., & D'Souza, D. C. (2009). The effects of cannabinoids on serum cortisol and prolactin in humans. Psychopharmacology, 203(4), pp. 737-44. doi:10.1007/s00213-008-1422-2.
Ranganathan M, et al. The Effects of Cannabinoids On Serum Cortisol and Prolactin in Humans. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2009;203(4):737-44. PubMed PMID: 19083209.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - The effects of cannabinoids on serum cortisol and prolactin in humans. AU - Ranganathan,Mohini, AU - Braley,Gabriel, AU - Pittman,Brian, AU - Cooper,Thomas, AU - Perry,Edward, AU - Krystal,John, AU - D'Souza,Deepak Cyril, Y1 - 2008/12/16/ PY - 2008/02/10/received PY - 2008/11/19/accepted PY - 2008/12/17/entrez PY - 2008/12/17/pubmed PY - 2009/8/18/medline SP - 737 EP - 44 JF - Psychopharmacology JO - Psychopharmacology (Berl.) VL - 203 IS - 4 N2 - BACKGROUND: Cannabis is one of the most widely used illicit substances, and there is growing interest in the therapeutic applications of cannabinoids. While known to modulate neuroendocrine function, the precise acute and chronic dose-related effects of cannabinoids in humans are not well-known. Furthermore, the existing literature on the neuroendocrine effects of cannabinoids is limited by small sample sizes (n = 6-22), heterogeneous samples with regard to cannabis exposure (lumping users and nonusers), lack of controlling for chronic cannabis exposure, differing methodologies, and limited dose-response data. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta-9-THC) was hypothesized to produce dose-related increases in plasma cortisol levels and decreases in plasma prolactin levels. Furthermore, relative to controls, frequent users of cannabis were hypothesized to show altered baseline levels of these hormones and blunted Delta-9-THC-induced changes of these hormones. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Pooled data from a series of laboratory studies with multiple doses of intravenous Delta-9-THC in healthy control subjects (n = 36) and frequent users of cannabis (n = 40) was examined to characterize the acute, chronic, and acute on chronic effects of cannabinoids on plasma cortisol and prolactin levels. Hormone levels were measured before (baseline) and 70 min after administration of each dose of Delta-9-THC. Data were analyzed using linear mixed models with +70 min hormonal levels as the dependant variable and baseline hormonal level as the covariate. RESULTS: At socially relevant doses, Delta-9-THC raised plasma cortisol levels in a dose-dependent manner but frequent users showed blunted increases relative to healthy controls. Frequent users also had lower baseline plasma prolactin levels relative to healthy controls. CONCLUSIONS: These group differences may be related to the development of tolerance to the neuroendocrine effects of cannabinoids. Alternatively, these results may reflect inherent differences in neuroendocrine function in frequent users of cannabis and not a consequence of cannabis use. SN - 1432-2072 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/19083209/The_effects_of_cannabinoids_on_serum_cortisol_and_prolactin_in_humans_ L2 - https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00213-008-1422-2 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -