Intraocular pressure, ocular toxicity and neurotoxicity after administration of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol or cannabichromene

Exp Eye Res. 1984 Jan;38(1):63-71. doi: 10.1016/0014-4835(84)90139-8.


delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (delta 9-THC) or cannabichromene, a structurally diverse naturally occurring cannabinoid, was delivered unilaterally to the corneas of cats either acutely by application of single drops or chronically via osmotic minipumps over a period of nine days. While delta 9-THC only reduced intraocular pressure (IOP) minimally after acute administration, this cannabinoid produced substantial reductions in ocular tension during the entire period of chronic administration. Ocular toxicity during chronic treatment, however, was pronounced; conjunctival chemosis, erythema, and hyperemia were sustained, and corneal opacities approximating the site of drug delivery became evident within three to five days. In contrast, cannabichromene did not significantly alter IOP either acutely or during the nine days of chronic administration, and ocular toxicity was not apparent. After systemic administration of delta 9-THC to rats, a dose-related increase in the appearance of 8-13 Hz polyspike discharges became evident in the electrocorticogram during wakefulness and behavioral depression. These polyspikes subsequently reappeared during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep episodes. Cannabichromene was devoid of this effect. These results indicate that, in contrast with acute administration, chronic delivery of delta 9-THC to cat eyes produces substantial reductions in IOP. The tension lowering effect, however, is accompanied by considerable ocular toxicity and neurotoxicity. As cannabichromene lacked these activities, the terpenoid portion of the cannabinoid structure appears to be important for their mediation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Cannabinoids / toxicity*
  • Cats
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Conjunctiva / drug effects
  • Cornea / drug effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Dronabinol / toxicity*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Electromyography
  • Eye Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Female
  • Intraocular Pressure / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Sleep / drug effects
  • Sleep / physiology


  • Cannabinoids
  • Dronabinol
  • cannabichromene