delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol increases prodynorphin and proenkephalin gene expression in the spinal cord of the rat

Life Sci. 1997;61(4):PL 39-43. doi: 10.1016/s0024-3205(97)00405-0.


Hypoalgesia induced by cannabinoid drugs has been found to implicate the opioid system. The effect of five days treatment with delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) was examined on prodynorphin (PDYN) and proenkephalin (PENK) gene expression in the spinal cord of male rats. PDYN and PENK gene expression was estimated measuring by northern blot analysis mRNA levels in the whole spinal cord, containing perikarya of these neurons. The subchronic treatment with THC (5 mg/kg/day; 5 days; i.p.) produced an increase in PDYN (39%) and PENK (34%) gene expression when compared with the vehicle treated group. These results suggest that the effects of THC in the spinal cord involve an increase in opioid activity, and therefore sustain the hypothesis of an interaction between the cannabinoid and opioid systems in this region.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Northern
  • Dronabinol / pharmacology*
  • Enkephalins / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Protein Precursors / genetics*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Spinal Cord / drug effects*
  • Spinal Cord / metabolism


  • Enkephalins
  • Protein Precursors
  • RNA, Messenger
  • proenkephalin
  • Dronabinol
  • preproenkephalin