Curated Research Library
CATEGORY : Reproductive
Cannabis is the most frequently used illicit drug among pregnant women, yet the potential consequences of prenatal cannabis exposure on development are not well understood. Electronic cigarettes have become an increasingly popular route of administration among pregnant women, in part to user’s perception that e-cigarettes are a safer route for consuming cannabis products. Importantly, half of pregnant women who consume cannabis also report consuming alcohol, but research investigating co-consumption of these drugs is limited, particularly with current routes of administration. The purpose of this study was to establish a co-exposure vapor inhalation model of alcohol and THC in pregnant rats, to ultimately determine the effects on fetal development. Pregnant Sprague-Dawley rats were exposed to moderate doses of THC via e-cigarettes, alcohol, the combination, or vehicle daily from gestational days 5-20. Importantly, pharmacokinetic interactions of alcohol and THC were observed during pregnancy. Combined exposure consistently increased blood alcohol concentrations, indicating that THC alters alcohol metabolism. In addition, THC levels also increased over the course of pregnancy and THC metabolism was altered by alcohol. Alcohol, but not THC, exposure during pregnancy reduced maternal weight gain, despite no group differences in food intake. Neither prenatal alcohol nor THC exposure altered gestational length, litter size, sex ratio or birth weight. However, prenatal alcohol exposure delayed eye opening, and prenatal THC exposure decreased body weights during adolescence among offspring. These individual and synergistic effects suggest that this novel co-exposure vapor inhalation paradigm can effectively be used to expose pregnant dams, exerting some effects on fetal development, while avoiding nutritional confounds, birth complications, or changes in litter size. With this model, we have demonstrated that combining THC and alcohol alters drug metabolism, which could have important consequences on prenatal development.
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