Cannabinoids promote neurogenesis in embryonic and adult rats, and produce anxiolytic- and antidepressant-like effects, according to a new report in the current issue of The Journal of Clinical Investigation. The effects appear to contradict those seen from other studied drugs of abuse, the authors note.

"Most drugs of abuse such as nicotine, heroine, and cocaine suppress neurogenesis in these cells, but the effects of cannabinoids weren't clear. We show that cannabinoids, in fact, promote neurogenesis," study author Xia Zhang of the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada, told The Scientist.

During the study, Zhang and his colleagues analyzed the effect of the synthetic cannabinoid HU210, an agonist of the cannabinoid receptor CB1, on neural progenitor cells in the hippocampal dentate gyrus. They found that HU210 increased cell proliferation in vitro, and did so in vivo after chronic treatment. Antidepressants produce a similar pattern of cell proliferation, inspiring the...

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