Cannabinoid Receptors in Brain Differ Due to Sex and Hormone Levels

Male and Female Rats Differ in Brain Cannabinoid CB1 Receptor Density and Function and in Behavioural Traits Predisposing to Drug Addiction- Effect of Ovarian Hormones

In Summary

A recent study has revealed that cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) density and function depend on sex and hormone levels. Researchers have found that the effects of CB1 receptors in brain regions of female rats caused them to engage in behaviors that are associated with a higher risk for substance abuse disorders. Interestingly, female rats reported a lower density of CB1 receptors, suggesting that an increase in cannabis receptors may improve rats’ chances of developing a substance use disorder. Further studies need to be conducted in order to test the validity of these findings for human mammals considering the differences between the human and rat cannabinoid systems. 

 This study highlights the inconsistency between rat and human endocannabinoid systems. Rat models are commonly used to study biological processes for ethical, efficient, and economic reasons, but they are not always appropriate. Previous studies featured on this blog have reported fundamental differences in the endocannabinoid systems of rats and humans, suggesting that they may not provide valid evidence. Non-human mammalian models such as monkeys may provide more valid results when looking into the therapeutic effects of cannabinoids or interactions between opioid and cannabinoid systems. 

The study is available for review or download here

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Benjamin Caplan, MDCannabinoid Receptors in Brain Differ Due to Sex and Hormone Levels