Effects of long-term exposure to delta9-THC on expression of cannabinoid receptor (CB1) mRNA in different rat brain regions

Brain Res Mol Brain Res. 1998 Nov 20;62(2):141-9. doi: 10.1016/s0169-328x(98)00232-0.


The time course of changes across 21 days of continuous exposure to Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta9-THC) was assessed for the level of cannabinoid receptor (CB1) mRNA expression in three different rat brain regions: cerebellum, hippocampus and corpus striatum. Expression levels of CB1 mRNA were determined using semi-quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) following a protocol which included a gene standard, 28S ribonucleic acid protein (rRNA), for normalization of levels of RNA in the three different brain regions. The levels of CB1 mRNA were assessed in four different rats at each of seven time points (6 h, and 1, 2, 3, 7, 14 and 21 days) during a 21-day Delta9-THC one dose day-1 (10 mg kg-1) treatment regimen. In the cerebellum and hippocampus, CB1 mRNA levels were increased above vehicle control animals at 7 and 14 days of treatment. In the striatum the levels of CB1 transcripts were severely reduced from days 2-14. CB1 message expression in all three brain areas returned to vehicle control levels by day 21 of Delta9-THC treatment, a time at which behavioral tolerance has been previously reported. An additional measure, receptor stimulated GTPgammaS binding, performed over the same time period revealed differential desensitization within the 3 brain areas as a function of chronic exposure to Delta9-THC. Hippocampus was the earliest to desensitize decreasing to 35% of control by treatment day 7, followed by a decrease in the cerebellum to that same level on day 14 of treatment. The striatum showed only half that degree of desensitization (65%) over the entire 21-day treatment period. Comparisons suggests that CB1 message may be regulated by different effector systems in each of the three areas during chronic Delta9-THC exposure.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Chemistry / drug effects*
  • Cerebellum / drug effects*
  • Cerebellum / metabolism
  • Corpus Striatum / drug effects*
  • Corpus Striatum / metabolism
  • Dronabinol / pharmacology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects*
  • Guanosine 5'-O-(3-Thiotriphosphate) / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / drug effects*
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Organ Specificity
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid
  • Receptors, Drug / biosynthesis*
  • Receptors, Drug / genetics
  • Time Factors


  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid
  • Receptors, Drug
  • Guanosine 5'-O-(3-Thiotriphosphate)
  • Dronabinol