Very low doses of Δ8-THC increase food consumption and alter neurotransmitter levels following weight loss

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We have investigated the effect of 0.001 mg/kg Δ8-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on food consumption, cognitive function, and neurotransmitters in mice. Sabra mice were treated with vehicle, THC, or THC+CB1 antagonist (SR141716A). The mice were fed for 2.5 h a day for 9 or 50 days. In the 9-day schedule, THC-treated mice showed a 16% increase in food intake compared with controls (P<.001). This effect was reversed by the antagonist (P<.01). In the long-term schedule a 22% increase in intake (P<.05) was recorded. During the course of the 9- and 50-day experimental protocol, all mice lost about 20% and 10% of their original weight, respectively, to reach approximately the same weights, which were not significantly different between the different treatment groups. In addition, THC caused an increase in activity (P<.05). Cognitive function showed a tendency to improve (P<.06) in the THC-treated mice, which was reversed by the antagonist for Days 4 and 5 of the maze (P<.01, and P<.05, respectively). Significant decreases in dopamine and serotonin (5-HT) levels were found both in the hypothalamus (P<.01) and the hippocampus (P<.01, P<.05), respectively, while norepinephrine (NE) levels showed tendency to increase in both the hypothalamus and hippocampus. Δ8-THC increased food intake significantly more (P<.05) than did Δ9-THC, while performance and activity were similar. Thus, Δ8-THC (0.001 mg/kg) caused increased food consumption and tendency to improve cognitive function, without cannabimimetic side effects. Hence, a low dose of THC might be a potential therapeutic agent in the treatment of weight disorders.

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