Schizophrenia (SCZ) is a neurodevelopmental disorder with a high genetic component, but the presence of environmental stressors can be important for its onset and progression. Cannabis use can be a major risk factor for developing SCZ. However, despite the available data on the neurobiological underpinnings of SCZ, there is an important lack of studies in human neuronal tissue and living cells addressing the effects of cannabis in SCZ patients. In this study, we analysed the most relevant bio-macromolecular constituents in olfactory neuroepithelium (ON) cells of healthy controls non-cannabis users, healthy cannabis users, SCZ patients non-cannabis users, and SCZ patients cannabis users using Synchrotron Radiation-Fourier Transform Infrared (SR-FTIR) spectrometry and microscopy. Our results revealed that SCZ patients non-cannabis users, and healthy cannabis users exhibit similar alterations in the macromolecular profile of ON cells, including disruption in lipid composition, increased lipid membrane renewal rate and lipid peroxidation, altered proteins containing more β-sheet structures, and showed an increase in DNA and histone methylation. Notably, these alterations were not observed in SCZ patients who use cannabis regularly. These data suggest a differential effect of cannabis in healthy controls and in SCZ patients in terms of the macromolecular constituents of ON cells.
Keywords: SR-FTIR; cannabis; olfactory neuroepithelium; schizophrenia.