Estrogenic effects of marijuana smoke condensate and cannabinoid compounds

Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2006 Aug 1;214(3):270-8. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2005.12.019. Epub 2006 Feb 24.


Chronic exposure to marijuana produces adverse effects on the endocrine and reproductive systems in humans; however, the experimental evidence for this presented thus far has not been without controversy. In this study, the estrogenic effect of marijuana smoke condensate (MSC) was evaluated using in vitro bioassays, viz., the cell proliferation assay, the reporter gene assay, and the ER competitive binding assay. The results of these assays were compared with those of three major cannabinoids, i.e., THC, CBD, and CBN. The estrogenic effect of MSC was further confirmed by the immature female rat uterotrophic assay. MSC stimulated the estrogenicity related to the ER-mediated pathway, while neither THC, CBD, nor CBN did. Moreover, treatment with 10 and 25 mg/kg MSC induced significant uterine response, and 10 mg/kg MSC resulted in an obvious change in the uterine epithelial cell appearance. MSC also enhanced the IGFBP-1 gene expression in a dose-dependent manner. To identify the constituents of MSC responsible for its estrogenicity, the MSC fractionated samples were examined using another cell proliferation assay, and the estrogenic active fraction was analyzed using GC-MS. In the organic acid fraction that showed the strongest estrogenic activity among the seven fractions of MSC, phenols were identified. Our results suggest that marijuana abuse is considered an endocrine-disrupting factor. Furthermore, these results suggest that the phenolic compounds contained in MSC play a role in its estrogenic effect.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding, Competitive
  • Biological Assay
  • Cannabinoids / toxicity*
  • Cannabis / toxicity*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Estrogens, Non-Steroidal / toxicity*
  • Female
  • Genes, Reporter / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Luciferases / genetics
  • Organ Size / drug effects
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism
  • Smoke / adverse effects*
  • Uterus / drug effects
  • Uterus / pathology
  • Xenobiotics / toxicity*


  • Cannabinoids
  • Estrogens, Non-Steroidal
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Smoke
  • Xenobiotics
  • Luciferases