Differential effects of delta 9-THC on spatial reference and working memory in mice.


RATIONALE Marijuana remains the most widely used illicit drug in the U.S., and recent attention has been given to putative therapeutic uses of marijuana and cannabinoid derivatives. Thus, developing a better understanding of delta9-THC (tetrahydrocannabinol)-induced mnemonic deficits is of critical importance. OBJECTIVES These experiments were conducted to determine whether delta9-THC has differential effects on spatial reference and working memory tasks, to investigate its receptor mechanism of action, and to compare these effects with those produced by two other compounds--scopolamine and phencyclidine--known to produce mnemonic deficits. In addition, the potency of delta9-THC in these memory tasks was compared with its potency in other pharmacological effects traditionally associated with cannabinoid activity. METHODS Two different versions of the Morris water maze were employed: a working memory task and a reference memory task. Other effects of delta9-THC were assessed using standard tests of hypomotility, antinociception, catalepsy, and hypothermia. RESULTS delta9-THC disrupted performance of the working memory task (3.0 mg/kg) at doses lower than those required to disrupt performance of the reference memory task (100 mg/kg), or elicit hypomotility, antinociception, catalepsy, and hypothermia. These performance deficits were reversed by SR 141716A. The effects of delta9-THC resembled those of scopolamine, which also selectively disrupted the working maze task. Conversely, phencyclidine disrupted both tasks only at a dose that also produced motor deficits. CONCLUSIONS These data indicate that delta9-THC selectively impairs performance of a working memory task through a CB, receptor mechanism of action and that these memory disruptions are more sensitive than other pharmacological effects of delta9-THC.

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@article{Varvel2001DifferentialEO, title={Differential effects of delta 9-THC on spatial reference and working memory in mice.}, author={S A Varvel and Robert J. Hamm and Billy R. Martin and Aron H. Lichtman}, journal={Psychopharmacology}, year={2001}, volume={157 2}, pages={142-50} }