Dysregulated cannabinoid signaling disrupts uterine receptivity for embryo implantation

J Biol Chem. 2001 Jun 8;276(23):20523-8. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M100679200. Epub 2001 Mar 8.


The mechanisms by which synchronized embryonic development to the blastocyst stage, preparation of the uterus for the receptive state, and reciprocal embryo-uterine interactions for implantation are coordinated are still unclear. We show in this study that preimplantation embryo development became asynchronous in mice that are deficient in brain-type (CB1) and/or spleen-type (CB2) cannabinoid receptor genes. Furthermore, whereas the levels of uterine anandamide (endocannabinoid) and blastocyst CB1 are coordinately down-regulated with the onset of uterine receptivity and blastocyst activation prior to implantation, these levels remained high in the nonreceptive uterus and in dormant blastocysts during delayed implantation and in pregnant, leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF)-deficient mice with implantation failure. These results suggest that a tight regulation of endocannabinoid signaling is important for synchronizing embryo development with uterine receptivity for implantation. Indeed this is consistent with our finding that while an experimentally induced, sustained level of an exogenously administered, natural cannabinoid inhibited implantation in wild-type mice, it failed to do so in CB1(-/-)/CB2(-/-) double mutant mice. The present study is clinically important because of the widely debated medicinal use of cannabinoids and their reported adverse effects on pregnancy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators
  • Cannabinoids / metabolism
  • Cannabinoids / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid
  • Receptors, Drug / genetics
  • Receptors, Drug / metabolism
  • Receptors, Drug / physiology*
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Uterus / drug effects
  • Uterus / metabolism
  • Uterus / physiology*


  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators
  • Cannabinoids
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid
  • Receptors, Drug