Differential effects of cannabis extracts and pure plant cannabinoids on hippocampal neurones and glia

Neurosci Lett. 2006 Nov 20;408(3):236-41. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2006.09.008. Epub 2006 Sep 25.


We have shown previously that the plant cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) elevates intracellular calcium levels in both cultured hippocampal neurones and glia. Here, we investigated whether the main psychotropic constituent of cannabis, Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) alone or in combination with other cannabis constituents can cause similar responses, and whether THC affects the responses induced by CBD. Our experiments were performed with 1 microM pure THC (pTHC), with 1 microM pure CBD (pCBD), with a high-THC, low CBD cannabis extract (eTHC), with a high-CBD, low THC cannabis extract (eCBD), with a mixture of eTHC and eCBD (THC:CBD=1:1) or with corresponding 'mock extracts' that contained only pTHC and pCBD mixed in the same proportion as in eTHC, eCBD or the 1:1 mixture of eTHC and eCBD. We detected significant differences in neurones both between the effects of pTHC and eTHC and between the effects of pCBD and eCBD. There were also differences between the Ca(2+) responses evoked in both neurones and glia by eTHC and mock eTHC, but not between eCBD and mock eCBD. A particularly striking observation was the much increased response size and maximal responder rates induced by the mixture of eTHC and eCBD than by the corresponding 1:1 mixture of pTHC and pCBD. Our data suggest that THC shares the ability of CBD to elevate Ca(2+) levels in neurones and glia, that THC and CBD interact synergistically and that the cannabis extracts have other constituents yet to be identified that can significantly modulate the ability of THC and CBD to raise Ca(2+) levels.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cannabinoids / pharmacology*
  • Cannabis / chemistry
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Dronabinol / pharmacology*
  • Drug Interactions
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agonists / pharmacology
  • Hallucinogens / pharmacology*
  • Hippocampus / cytology*
  • N-Methylaspartate / pharmacology
  • Neuroglia / drug effects*
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Rats


  • Cannabinoids
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agonists
  • Hallucinogens
  • N-Methylaspartate
  • Dronabinol
  • Calcium