Scheyer AF - Melis M - Trezza V - Manzoni OJJ
Trends in neurosciences
Cannabis exposure during the perinatal period results in varied and significant consequences in affected offspring. The prevalence of detrimental outcomes of perinatal cannabis exposure is likely to increase in tandem with the broadening of legalization and acceptance of the drug. As such, it is crucial to highlight the immediate and protracted consequences of cannabis exposure on pre- and postnatal development. Here, we identify lasting changes in neurons' learning flexibility (synaptic plasticity) and epigenetic misregulation in animal models of perinatal cannabinoid exposure (using synthetic cannabinoids or active components of the cannabis plant), in addition to significant alterations in social behavior and executive functions. These findings are supported by epidemiological data indicating similar behavioral outcomes throughout life in human offspring exposed to cannabis during pregnancy. Further, we indicate important lingering questions regarding accurate modeling of perinatal cannabis exposure as well as the need for sex- and age-dependent outcome measures in future studies.