Link between personality and response to THC exposure

Behav Brain Res. 2020 Feb 3;379:112361. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2019.112361. Epub 2019 Nov 14.


The effects of cannabis reported by users range from experiences of euphoria and anxiolytic effects to paranoia, anxiety, and increased risk of depression. Attempts to reconcile the apparent contradictions in user response have not been conclusive. Here, we utilized selectively-bred stress-resilient socially dominant (Dom) and stress-sensitive socially submissive (Sub) mice to elucidate this contradiction. Following short-term, repeated treatment with delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) at two different doses (1.5 mg/kg and 15 mg/kg), Sub mice presented significant place-aversion in a Conditioned Place Preference paradigm at a high dose, whereas Dom mice displayed no place preference or aversion. Forced Swim test conducted after 6-week of washout period, revealed differential impact of the two THC doses depending upon behavioral pattern. Specifically, the low dose alleviated depressive-like behavior in Sub mice, while the high dose produced the opposite effect in Dom mice. Interestingly, corticosterone concentration in serum was elevated at the high dose regardless of the mice-population tested. We conclude here that differences in dominance behavior and stress vulnerability are involved in the regulation of cannabis response among users and should be considered when prescribing THC-containing medications to patients.

Keywords: Addiction; Aversion; Behavior; Cannabis; Personality; THC.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects*
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Agonists / administration & dosage
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Agonists / pharmacology*
  • Conditioning, Psychological / drug effects*
  • Corticosterone / blood*
  • Depression / chemically induced*
  • Depression / drug therapy*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dominance-Subordination*
  • Dronabinol / administration & dosage
  • Dronabinol / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Personality* / physiology


  • Cannabinoid Receptor Agonists
  • Dronabinol
  • Corticosterone