Interactions of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) with hypothalamic neurotransmitters controlling luteinizing hormone and prolactin release

Neuroendocrinology. 1983 Nov;37(5):361-70. doi: 10.1159/000123576.


The effects of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on hypothalamic norepinephrine (NE) and dopamine (DA) turnover and hypothalamic serotonin (5-HT), 5-hydroxyindole acetic acid (5-HIAA) and LHRH content preceding and during a progesterone- (P) induced LH and prolactin (PRL) surge were investigated in ovariectomized estrogen-primed rats. THC had no effect on basal LH levels, but it inhibited basal PRL levels and blocked the surges of both LH and PRL. The turnover of NE, as estimated by measuring NE depletion after inhibition of tyrosine hydroxylase with alpha-methyl tyrosine (250 mg/kg), in both the anterior (AH) and medial basal hypothalamus (MBH) was significantly inhibited by THC. THC did not significantly affect AH or MBH DA or 5-HT content nor MBH-DA-turnover. Hypothalamic LHRH levels were significantly elevated 4 h after THC administration as compared to the vehicle-injected controls, but pituitary response to exogenous LHRH was not affected. These data suggest that THC inhibits the steroid-induced positive feedback release of LH by reducing NE metabolism and the release of hypothalamic LHRH. Although the mechanism for the inhibition of PRL release by THC is not clear from these experiments, it does not appear that alterations in DA turnover are a contributing factor.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Castration
  • Dronabinol / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Hypothalamic Hormones / metabolism*
  • Luteinizing Hormone / metabolism*
  • Methyltyrosines / pharmacology
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism*
  • Norepinephrine / metabolism
  • Pituitary Gland / drug effects
  • Prolactin / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • alpha-Methyltyrosine


  • Hypothalamic Hormones
  • Methyltyrosines
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • alpha-Methyltyrosine
  • Dronabinol
  • Prolactin
  • Luteinizing Hormone
  • Norepinephrine