In utero exposure to tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive component of marijuana, is associated with an increased risk for neurodevelopmental defects in the offspring by interfering with the functioning of the endocannabinoid (eCB) system. At the present time, it is not clearly known whether the eCB system is present before neurogenesis. Using an array of biochemical techniques, we analyzed the levels of CB1 receptors, eCBs (AEA and 2-AG), and the enzymes (NAPE-PLD, DAGLα, DAGLβ, MAGL, and FAAH) involved in the metabolism of the eCBs in chick and mouse models during development. The findings demonstrate the presence of eCB system in early embryo before neurogenesis. The eCB system might play a critical role in early embryogenesis and there might be adverse developmental consequences of in utero exposure to marijuana and other drugs of abuse during this period.
© 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.