International Journal of Molecular Sciences
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The rates of gestational cannabis use have increased despite limited evidence for its safety in fetal life. Recent animal studies demonstrate that prenatal exposure to Δ9‐tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9‐THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis) promotes intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), culminating in postnatal metabolic deficits. Given IUGR is associated with impaired hepatic function, we hypothesized that Δ9‐THC offspring would exhibit hepatic dyslipidemia. Pregnant Wistar rat dams received daily injections of vehicular control or 3 mg/kg Δ9‐THC i.p. from embry-onic day (E) 6.5 through E22. Exposure to Δ9‐THC decreased the liver to body weight ratio at birth, followed by catch‐up growth by three weeks of age. At six months, Δ9‐THC‐exposed male offspring exhibited increased visceral adiposity and higher hepatic triglycerides. This was instigated by augmented expression of enzymes involved in triglyceride synthesis (ACCα, SCD, FABP1, and DGAT2) at three weeks. Furthermore, the expression of hepatic DGAT1/DGAT2 was sustained at six months, concomitant with mitochondrial dysfunction (i.e., elevated p66shc) and oxidative stress. Interest-ingly, decreases in miR‐203a‐3p and miR‐29a/b/c, both implicated in dyslipidemia, were also observed in these Δ9‐THC‐exposed offspring. Collectively, these findings indicate that prenatal Δ9‐ THC exposure results in long‐term dyslipidemia associated with enhanced hepatic lipogenesis. This is attributed by mitochondrial dysfunction and epigenetic mechanisms.