Maternal cannabinoid exposure. Effects on spermatogenesis in male offspring

Int J Androl. 1986 Aug;9(4):250-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2605.1986.tb00888.x.


Maternal exposure to cannabinoids influenced spermatogenesis and fertility in their male offspring examined at 60-80 days of age. Approximately 20% less spermatozoa were found in males whose mothers had received either the non-psychoactive cannabinol (CBN) or cannabidiol (CBD) on day 1 postpartum. Males exposed to the major psychoactive component of marihuana, delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) appeared to have spermatozoa in number comparable to controls. This finding may be consistent with the additional observation that CBN or CBD, but not THC, reduced the percentage of successful impregnations by cannabinoid-exposed males. However, males exposed to each of these cannabinoids produced significantly less live offspring compared to controls. Plasma levels of testosterone and luteinizing hormone (LH) were reduced significantly in mice exposed to THC on day 12 of gestation, while testicular weight was reduced in adult mice exposed either on day 12 of gestation to CBD or on day 1 post-partum to THC. These results indicate that perinatal exposure to psychoactive and non-psychoactive components of marihuana can produce long-term disruption of testicular function including the spermatogenic as well as the steroidogenic components.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cannabidiol / toxicity
  • Cannabinol / toxicity
  • Dronabinol / toxicity*
  • Female
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone / blood
  • Infertility, Male / chemically induced*
  • Infertility, Male / pathology
  • Luteinizing Hormone / blood
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Organ Size
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Spermatogenesis*
  • Spermatozoa / pathology
  • Testis / pathology


  • Cannabidiol
  • Dronabinol
  • Cannabinol
  • Luteinizing Hormone
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone