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Study Shows Cannabis Use May Cause Pregnancy Problems

Study Shows Cannabis Use May Cause Pregnancy Problems

Posted by Marijuana Doctors on 09/19/2012 in Medical Marijuana Studies

In the most recent September 14th edition of The Journal of Biological Chemistry, a new study was published that offers both new insight and new evidence on abnormal biological signaling by endocannabinoid lipid molecules that are produced by the body and how they disrupt the movement of early embryonic cells that are vital and important to a healthy and successful pregnancy .Endocannabinoids are substances that are produced from within the body in order to activate cannabinoid receptors.  This study in particular took a closer look at particular trophoblast cells that form the placenta. Abnormal placental function is most commonly seen in preeclampsia, a medical condition that is of an unknown nature or cause and places a danger in both mother and child. Preeclampsia in impregnated women usually occurs or is diagnosed after the twentieth week, or the late second to third trimester of their pregnancy. 

Scientists from the Division of Reproductive Sciences at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, conducted the research and analyzed test-subjected mouse preimplantation embryos that were mutated in order to alter their endocannabinoid signaling receptors. Scientists found that after either silencing or enhancing endocannabinoid signaling may adversely affect one’s trophoblast stem cell migration, which is considered detrimental. Principal investigator on this study and division director, Dr. Sudhansu K. Dey, said that the findings of this investigation raises concern that the exposure of cannabis products in early embryo development may adversely affect pregnancy and may result in becoming perpetuated later on. Dr. Dey also noted that given the fact that endocannabinoid signaling plays a key role within the central nervous system, it would be extremely interesting to see how future studies examine whether the affected cell migration-related genes in early embryos also participate with neuronal cell migration during early brain development. Previous research performed by members of Dey laboratory and Dr. Dey herselfs have shown that the timing of critical events in early pregnancy, such as when and how well an embryo implants in the uterus, is considered extremely vital to a healthy pregnancy and successful birth. 

Researchers of the study conducted several DNA microarray analyses in order to determine how well the expression levels of genes important to that of healthy embryo development, were affected within embryos of that with an abnormal endocannabinoid signaling system. Within one of the groups of embryos, endocannabinoid signaling was silenced by deleting the gene Cnr1, which is the gene that activates all endocannabinoid signaling processes. A second group of mice was mutated by deleting the gene Faah in order to produce elevated endocannabinoid levels that were similar to that of wild mice that were treated with tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, which is the psychotropic or psychoactive agent in cannabis. By deleting the gene Faah within the second group of mice, this is taking away the gene that breaks down molecules that activate endocannabinoid signaling.

Results from both groups show the expression of numerous genes known to be important to cell movement and embryo development was lower to that of normal, wild type mice. These results included the development and migration of trophoblast stem cells. For those who are not aware, trophoblast cells help anchor the conceptus with the uterus and also help form much of the placenta, which is extremely crucial and critical to the establishment of maternal-fetal circulation and exchange of nutrients. The concepts includes all structures that develop from the zygote, whether it is embryonic or it is extraembryonic. Researchers from the study have said that the mouse models that were developed in direct associated with the current study, may help advance to more extensive studies on the causes of preeclampsia.

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