Cross-generational THC exposure alters the developmental sensitivity of ventral and dorsal striatal gene expression in male and female offspring

Henrietta Szutorisz, Gabor Egervári, James Sperry, Jenna M. Carter, Yasmin L. Hurd

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Cannabis (Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica) is the illicit drug most frequently abused by young men and women. The growing use of the drug has raised attention not only on the impact of direct exposure on the developing brain and behavior later in life, but also on potential cross-generational consequences. Our previous work demonstrated that adolescent exposure to Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive component of cannabis, affects reward-related behavior and striatal gene expression in male offspring that were unexposed to the drug during their own lifespan. The significant sex differences documented for most addiction and psychiatric disorders suggest that understanding the perturbation of the brain in the two sexes due to cannabis could provide insights about neuronal systems underpinning vulnerability to psychiatric illnesses. In the current study, we expanded our previous observations in males by analyzing the female brain for specific aberrations associated with cross-generational THC exposure. Based on the impact of adolescent development on subsequent adult behavioral pathology, we examined molecular patterns during both adolescence and adulthood. The results revealed a switch from the ventral striatum during adolescence to the dorsal striatum in adulthood in alterations of gene expression related to synaptic plasticity in both sexes. Females, however, exhibited stronger correlation patterns between genes and also showed locomotor disturbances not evident in males. Overall, the findings demonstrate cross-generational consequences of parental THC exposure in both male and female offspring.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-114
Number of pages8
JournalNeurotoxicology and Teratology
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • Cross-generational transmission
  • Development
  • Gender
  • Marijuana
  • Striatum
  • Synaptic plasticity


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