Obstetrics & Gynaecology Publications

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Despite increased prevalence of maternal cannabis use, little is understood regarding potential long-term effects of prenatal cannabis exposure (PCE) on neurodevelopmental outcomes. While neurodevelopmental cannabis exposure increases the risk of developing affective/mood disorders in adulthood, the precise neuro-pathophysiological mechanisms in male and female offspring are largely unknown. Given the interconnectivity of the endocannabinoid (ECb) system and the brain’s fatty acid pathways, we hypothesized that prenatal exposure to ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) may dysregulate fetal neurodevelopment through alterations of fatty-acid dependent synaptic and neuronal function in the mesolimbic system. To investigate this, pregnant Wistar rats were exposed to vehicle or THC (3 mg/kg) from gestational day (GD)7 until GD22. Anxiety-like, depres-sive-like, and reward-seeking behavior, electrophysiology, and molecular assays were performed on adult male/female offspring. Imaging of fatty acids using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization imaging mass spectrometry (MALDI IMS) was performed at prepubescence and adulthood. We report that PCE induces be-havioral, neuronal, and molecular alterations in the mesolimbic system in male and female offspring, resem-bling neuropsychiatric endophenotypes. Additionally, PCE resulted in profound dysregulation of critical fatty acid pathways in the developing brain lipidome. Female progeny exhibited significant alterations to fatty acid levels at prepubescence but recovered from these deficits by early adulthood. In contrast, males exhibited persistent fatty acid deficits into adulthood. Moreover, both sexes maintained enduring abnormalities in gluta-matergic/GABAergic function in the nucleus accumbens (NAc). These findings identify several novel long-term risks of maternal cannabis use and demonstrate for the first time, sex-related effects of maternal cannabinoid exposure directly in the developing neural lipidome.