Activational role of cannabinoids on movement

Eur J Pharmacol. 2000 Mar 17;391(3):269-74. doi: 10.1016/s0014-2999(00)00044-3.


Cannabinoid's major effect on movement is hypoactivity. Nevertheless, a biphasic excitatory/inhibitory effect of cannabinoids on movement has been repeatedly acknowledged. However, the literature is lacking a detailed description of such an effect. In this study, we performed a dose-response study of the effects of Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol on movement. Immediately after the administration of vehicle or a dose of Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (0.2, 0.5, 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 4, or 5 mg/kg), the animal was placed in an activity monitor and observed for 1 h. Several parameters were recorded. The horizontal and vertical activities were measured as the number of photobeams broken between the photocells on the walls of an activity monitor. The number of wet dog shakes, scratches with hindpaw, mouth movements, forepaw flutters were also recorded, as was the amount of time in minutes that each subject spent grooming. The number of fecal boluses was recorded as an index of autonomic activity. Each animal was subsequently tested for catalepsy in the bar test. A triphasic effect was observed: low doses of the cannabinoid receptor agonist Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (0.2 mg/kg) decreased locomotor activity while higher doses (1-2 mg/kg) dose-dependently stimulated movement until catalepsy emerged (2.5 mg/kg) accompanied by decreases in activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cannabinoids / metabolism*
  • Catalepsy / chemically induced
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Dronabinol / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / drug effects*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid
  • Receptors, Drug / agonists*


  • Cannabinoids
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid
  • Receptors, Drug
  • Dronabinol