Physiology and Pharmacology Publications

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Reproductive toxicology (Elmsford, N.Y.)



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While studies have demonstrated that the main psychoactive component of cannabis, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) alone induces placental insufficiency and fetal growth restriction, the underlying mechanisms remain elusive. Given that both (i) endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in pregnancy and (ii) gestational exposure to Δ9-THC leads to placental deficiency, we hypothesized that Δ9-THC may directly induce placental ER stress, influencing trophoblast gene expression and mitochondrial function. BeWo human trophoblast cells treated with Δ9-THC (3-30 μM) led to a dose-dependent increase in all ER stress markers and CHOP; these effects could be blocked with CB1R/CB2R antagonists. Moreover, expression of ER stress-sensitive genes ERRγ, VEGFA, and FLT-1 were increased by Δ9-THC, and abrogated with the ER stress inhibitor TUDCA. Δ9-THC also diminished mitochondrial respiration and ATP-coupling due to decreased abundance of mitochondrial chain complex proteins. Collectively, these findings indicate that Δ9-THC can directly augment ER stress resulting in aberrant placental gene expression and impaired mitochondrial function.


This is the author accepted version of the article that appeared in Reproductive Toxicology, availabel at:

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.