, Volume 236, Issue 9, pp 2773–2784 | Cite as

Effects in rats of adolescent exposure to cannabis smoke or THC on emotional behavior and cognitive function in adulthood

  • Adriaan W. BruijnzeelEmail author
  • Parker Knight
  • Stefany Panunzio
  • Song Xue
  • Matthew M. Bruner
  • Shannon C. Wall
  • Marjory Pompilus
  • Marcelo Febo
  • Barry Setlow
Original Investigation



Cannabis use is common among adolescents and some research suggests that adolescent cannabis use increases the risk for depression, anxiety, and cognitive impairments in adulthood. In human studies, however, confounds may affect the association between cannabis use and the development of brain disorders.


These experiments investigated the effects of adolescent exposure to either cannabis smoke or THC on anxiety- and depressive-like behavior and cognitive performance in adulthood in Long-Evans rats.


Adolescent rats of both sexes were exposed to either cannabis smoke from postnatal days (P) 29–49 or ascending doses of THC from P35–45. When the rats reached adulthood (P70), anxiety-like behavior was investigated in the large open field and elevated plus maze, depressive-like behavior in the sucrose preference and forced swim tests, and cognitive function in the novel object recognition test.


Despite sex differences on some measures in the open field, elevated plus maze, forced swim, and novel object recognition tests, there were no effects of either adolescent cannabis smoke or THC exposure, and only relatively subtle interactions between exposure conditions and sex, such that sex differences on some performance measures were slightly attenuated.


Neither cannabis smoke nor THC exposure during adolescence produced robust alterations in adult behavior after a period of abstinence, suggesting that adverse effects associated with adolescent cannabis use might be due to non-cannabinoid concomitants of cannabis use.


Cannabis THC Depression Anxiety Cognition Behavior Adolescents Adult Sex differences Rats 



We thank the NIDA Drug Supply Program for kindly providing the cannabis and placebo cigarettes and THC, and Shelby Blaes for assistance with THC preparation.

Funding information

This work was supported by funding from the National Institutes of Health (R21 DA039349) to BS and AWB and the McKnight Brain Institute to BS, AWB, and MF.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

213_2019_5255_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.2 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 1231 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adriaan W. Bruijnzeel
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Parker Knight
    • 1
  • Stefany Panunzio
    • 1
  • Song Xue
    • 1
  • Matthew M. Bruner
    • 1
  • Shannon C. Wall
    • 1
  • Marjory Pompilus
    • 1
  • Marcelo Febo
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Barry Setlow
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of NeuroscienceUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  3. 3.Center for Addiction Research and EducationUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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