The in vitro effect of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol on whole blood viscosity, elasticity and membrane integrity

J Cannabis Res. 2022 Apr 5;4(1):15. doi: 10.1186/s42238-022-00126-z.


Background: The main biological activities of cannabis are due to the presence of several compounds known as cannabinoids. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are two of the main cannabinoids. Studies have shown that the effects of THC can be modulated by CBD.

Objective: This study aims to look at the effect of different concentrations of THC and CBD separately and in combination, on blood viscosity, elasticity and membrane integrity.

Methods: Blood samples were collected from twenty-four healthy adult non-smokers. Blood viscosity and elasticity were determined using the Vilastic Scientific Bioprofiler for different concentrations (0, 2.5, 25, 50 and 100 ng/ml) of CBD and THC respectively, as well as in extracts with combinations of CBD and THC in 4:1 and 1:1 ratios respectively. Repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to determine the difference between the means of the groups.

Results: Blood viscosity increased significantly with increasing concentrations of both THC and CBD from 25 ng/ml up to 100 ng/ml ranging from 6.45 ± 0.36 mPa·s to 11.60 ± 1.12 mPa·s for THC and ranging from 5.46 ± 0.24 mPa·s to 9.91 ± 1.10 mPa·s for CBD respectively, being more pronounced in the extracts at 21.33 ± 2.17 mPa·s for the 4THC:1CBD extract and 21.76 ± 1.88 mPa·s for the 1THC:1CBD extract. There was no significant increase in elasticity for THC and CBD separately. However, a significant increase in elasticity was observed in the extracts. THC and CBD affected red cell morphology resulting in complete disintegration at the highest concentrations.

Conclusions: THC and CBD increased red blood cell viscosity and elasticity separately and in combination. They also adversely affected membrane integrity.

Keywords: Blood; CBD; Elasticity; Membrane integrity; Red blood cells; THC; Viscosity.