Editors' ChoiceNeuroscience

Counteracting Cannabis

Science Signaling  07 Jan 2014:
Vol. 7, Issue 307, pp. ec2
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2005043

What is the role of steroid hormones in vulnerability to addiction? Working with rodents, Vallée et al. found that all major drugs of abuse (morphine, cocaine, alcohol, nicotine) increase neurosteroid levels, with the active ingredient in cannabis (THC) inducing a particularly large increase. THC and other drugs increased levels of pregnenolone, long thought to be an inactive precursor of downstream active steroids. Pregnenolone antagonized most of the known behavioral and somatic effects of THC.

M. Vallée, S. Vitiello, L. Bellocchio, E. Hébert-Chatelain, S. Monlezun, E. Martin-Garcia, F. Kasanetz, G. L. Baillie, F. Panin, A. Cathala, V. Roullot-Lacarrière, S. Fabre, D. P. Hurst, D. L. Lynch, D. M. Shore, V. Deroche-Gamonet, U. Spampinato, J.-M. Revest, R. Maldonado, P. H. Reggio, R. A. Ross, G. Marsicano, P. V. Piazza, Pregnenolone can protect the brain from cannabis intoxication. Science 343, 94–98 (2014). [Abstract] [Full Text]