Study links human gene variant to THC reward in adolescent females

A common variation in a human gene that affects the brain’s reward processing circuit increases vulnerability to the rewarding effects of the main psychoactive ingredient of cannabis in adolescent females, but not males, according to preclinical research by Weill Cornell Medicine investigators. As adolescence represents a highly sensitive period of brain development with the highest risk for initiating cannabis use, these findings in mice have important implications for understanding the influence of genetics on cannabis dependence in humans.

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My immediate question on reading this was “just in adolescence?”

And the answer seems to be yes - so long as you’re not exposed to THC until adulthood. If mice (and possibly humans) are exposed during adolescence, the effects persist.

The team found that female mice with the FAAH variant showed an increased preference for the environment in which they’d been exposed to THC over a neutral environment when they were exposed to the substance during adolescence*, and the effect persisted into adulthood. However, if female mice with this variant were exposed to THC for the first time in adulthood, there was no increased preference for THC. These findings in mice parallel observations in humans that a select population of females are more sensitive to the effects of cannabis and demonstrate a quicker progression to cannabis dependence.

Cannabis is weird. It also normally takes several tries before it even has any noticeable effect beyond tiredness/sleepiness. Maybe cannabis is so much more rewarding to me than any other drugs because I started when I was young. Glad I quit.

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I’ll ask what may be a stupid question . Are people with better premorbid social functioning more likely to try cannabis ? I’m thinking having friends = more peer pressure .

I had poor premorbid social functioning , no friends and no peer pressure . I drank a whole bottle of benylin a few times because I was told it could make me high by a fellow patient . It didn’t. That was my extremely minor experience . I’ve never used cannabis .

It’s not a stupid question. People with SZ and good functioning are more likely to use cannabis and other drugs. Maintaining a drug habit requires a certain level of functioning, both cognitively and socially. Also, as you point out, having friends is usually a prerequisite for starting drugs. I’m not sure how it relates to premorbid functioning.

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Well for some social functioning takes a nose dive with the onset of mental illness . Then there’s people like me who have poor social functioning years before the onset of mental illness .

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