News Release

Study finds possible connection between marijuana abuse and stroke or heart attacks

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Molecular Psychiatry

Long-term harmful effects of marijuana (MJ) include risk for heart attacks and strokes in addition to impaired learning and memory. The active chemical in MJ called delta-9-tetrahyrdocannabinol (THC) is believed to exert these effects by binding to cannabinoid (CB) receptors located on several cell types in various organs. Scientists have found CB receptors in many organs including the brain, heart, liver, kidney, and spleen. In this study, researchers investigated if persistent heavy MJ use might be associated with changes in different blood proteins in order to check if the abnormalities in the identified proteins might be related to other side-effects of marijuana. The study was conducted with 18 long term heavy MJ users and 24 non-drug using volunteers. People with major medical and psychiatric illnesses, hypertension, head injury, HIV positive, alcohol dependency and other drug usage, were excluded from the study. Blood proteins were measured in both control volunteers and MJ users using a new method (protein chip) that has the potential to identify several new target proteins. That approach showed that apolipoprotein C-III (apoC-III) showed significant increases in MJ abusers. ApoC-III belongs to a large family of proteins that interact with lipids and helps lipids to move into and out of cells. ApoC-III is involved in transport of triglycerides and delays the breakdown of triglycerides. Increases in apoC-III levels in the blood occur in parallel with increases in triglyceride levels. Even though we still don't understand how heavy MJ use might cause increases in apoC-III levels, this protein might be one of the reasons why some MJ users have increased risks of heart attack and strokes.


Citation source:
Heavy Marijuana Users show Increased Serum Apolipoprotein C-III levels: Evidence from proteomic analyses
S Jayanthi1 S Buie1 S Moore3 RI Herning1 W Better1 NM Wilson1 C Contoreggi2 JL Cadet1

1Molecular Neuropsychiatry Branch
2Office of the Clinical Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse-Intramural Research Program, NIH, BRC, 251 Bayview Boulevard, Baltimore, MD, USA
3Ciphergen Biosystems, Freemont, CA, USA

Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication 13 MAY 2008 – 05:00 PM EST.

Members of the press may contact

Jean Lud Cadet, M.D.
Chief, Molecular Neuropsychiatry Branch
NIH Bayview Research Center
251 Bayview Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21224
Phone: 443-740-2656

Molecular Psychiatry is a peer-reviewed independent journal that publishes groundbreaking research in psychiatry and related fields. The journal’s Impact Factor is 11.804, 2nd of 95 in Psychiatry

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Editor: Julio Licinio, M.D.
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

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