, Volume 218, Issue 2, pp 443–457 | Cite as

Cannabidiol potentiates Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) behavioural effects and alters THC pharmacokinetics during acute and chronic treatment in adolescent rats

  • Charlotte Klein
  • Emily Karanges
  • Adena Spiro
  • Alexander Wong
  • Jarrah Spencer
  • Thanh Huynh
  • Nathan Gunasekaran
  • Tim Karl
  • Leonora E. Long
  • Xu-Feng Huang
  • Kelly Liu
  • Jonathon C. Arnold
  • Iain S. McGregorEmail author
Original Investigation



The interactions between Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) during chronic treatment, and at equivalent doses, are not well characterised in animal models.


The aim of this study is to examine whether the behavioural effects of THC, and blood and brain THC levels are affected by pre-treatment with equivalent CBD doses.


Adolescent rats were treated with ascending daily THC doses over 21 days (1 then 3 then 10 mg/kg). Some rats were given equivalent CBD doses 20 min prior to each THC injection to allow examination of possible antagonistic effects of CBD. During dosing, rats were assessed for THC and CBD/THC effects on anxiety-like behaviour, social interaction and place conditioning. At the end of dosing, blood and brain levels of THC, and CB1 and 5-HT1A receptor binding were assessed.


CBD potentiated an inhibition of body weight gain caused by chronic THC, and mildly augmented the anxiogenic effects, locomotor suppressant effects and decreased social interaction seen with THC. A trend towards place preference was observed in adolescent rats given CBD/THC but not those given THC alone. With both acute and chronic administration, CBD pre-treatment potentiated blood and brain THC levels, and lowered levels of THC metabolites (THC-COOH and 11-OH-THC). CBD co-administration did not alter the THC-induced decreases in CB1 receptor binding and no drug effects on 5-HT1A receptor binding were observed.


CBD can potentiate the psychoactive and physiological effects of THC in rats, most likely by delaying the metabolism and elimination of THC through an action on the CYP450 enzymes that metabolise both drugs.


THC Cannabidiol Cannabis Adolescent Anxiety Reward Pharmacokinetics 



Supported by research grants from the Australian Research Council (ISM) and National Health and Medical Research Council (TK, ISM and JCA).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charlotte Klein
    • 1
  • Emily Karanges
    • 1
  • Adena Spiro
    • 1
  • Alexander Wong
    • 1
  • Jarrah Spencer
    • 1
  • Thanh Huynh
    • 1
  • Nathan Gunasekaran
    • 1
  • Tim Karl
    • 2
  • Leonora E. Long
    • 2
  • Xu-Feng Huang
    • 3
  • Kelly Liu
    • 3
  • Jonathon C. Arnold
    • 1
  • Iain S. McGregor
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Schools of Psychology and Department of PharmacologyUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Neuroscience Research AustraliaUniversity of New South WalesRandwickAustralia
  3. 3.Centre for Translational NeuroscienceUniversity of WollongongWollongongAustralia

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