Marijuana exposure and pulmonary alterations in primates

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1991 Nov;40(3):637-42. doi: 10.1016/0091-3057(91)90375-c.


As part of a large multidisciplinary study, we examined lungs from 24 periadolescent male rhesus monkeys that were sacrificed seven months after daily marijuana smoke inhalation of 12 months duration. Animals were divided into four exposure groups: A) high-dose (one marijuana cigarette 7 days/week), B) low-dose (one marijuana cigarette 2 days/week and sham smoke 5 days/week), C) placebo (one extracted marijuana cigarette 7 days/week), and D) sham (sham smoke 7 days/week). Lungs, removed intact, were formalin inflated, sectioned and examined. Several pathological alterations, including alveolitis, alveolar cell hyperplasia and granulomatous inflammation, were found with higher frequency in all cigarette-smoking groups. Other alterations, such as bronchiolitis, bronchiolar squamous metaplasia and interstitial fibrosis, were found most frequently in the marijuana-smoking groups. Alveolar cell hyperplasia with focal atypia was seen only in the marijuana-smoking animals. These changes represent mostly early alterations of small airways. Additional follow-up studies are needed to determine their long-term prognostic significance.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bronchi / pathology
  • Hyperplasia / chemically induced
  • Hyperplasia / pathology
  • Lung / pathology*
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Macrophages, Alveolar / drug effects
  • Male
  • Marijuana Smoking / pathology*
  • Pneumonia / chemically induced
  • Pneumonia / pathology
  • Pulmonary Alveoli / pathology
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / chemically induced
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / pathology