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Medium-throughput zebrafish optogenetic platform identifies deficits in subsequent neural activity following brief early exposure to cannabidiol and Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol

By Richard Kanyo, Md. Ruhul Amin, Laszlo F Locskai, Danika D. Bouvier, Alexandria M. Olthuis, W. Ted Allison, Declan W. Ali

Posted 05 Jan 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.01.04.425279

In the light of legislative changes and the widespread use of cannabis as a recreational and medicinal drug, delayed effects of cannabis upon brief exposure during embryonic development are of high interest as early pregnancies often go undetected. Here, zebrafish embryos were exposed to cannabidiol (CBD) and {Delta}-9-tetrahydrocannabinol l (THC) until the end of gastrulation (1-10 hours post-fertilization) and analyzed later in development (4-5 days post-fertilization). In order to measure neural activity, we implemented CaMPARI (Calcium-Modulated Photoactivatable Ratiometric Integrator) and optimized the protocol for a 96-well format complemented by locomotor analysis. Our results revealed that neural activity was decreased by CBD more than THC. At higher doses, both cannabinoids could dramatically reduce neural activity and locomotor activity. Interestingly, the decrease was more pronounced when CBD and THC were combined. At the receptor level, CBD-mediated reduction of locomotor activity was partially prevented using cannabinoid type 1 and 2 receptor inhibitors. Overall, we report that CBD toxicity occurs via two cannabinoid receptors and is synergistically enhanced by THC exposure to negatively impact neural activity late in larval development. Future studies are warranted to reveal other cannabinoids and receptors involved in this pathway to understand the subsequent health implications of cannabis consumption on fetal development.

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