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Marijuana May Trigger Schizophrenia

marijuanaA new report finds alterations in a molecular brain pathway activated by marijuana may contribute to the cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia.

Heavy marijuana use, particularly in adolescence, appears to be associated with an increased risk for the later development of schizophrenia, and the course of illness is worse for people with schizophrenia who use marijuana,” said David A. Lewis, M.D., corresponding author of the study.

Expression of the cannabinoid 1 receptor (CB1R), the site of action of the main chemical ingredient of marijuana, is significantly reduced in the brains of individuals with schizophrenia. Activation of CB1R impairs signaling by gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an important neurotransmitter essential for core cognitive processes such as working memory.

The use of marijuana in individuals with schizophrenia appears to worsen this deficit in GABA synthesis.

Since reduced GABA is known to be present in schizophrenia, these findings suggest possible new drug targets that could help to improve function in people with the mental illness, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine researchers report in the July issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.

“We wanted to understand the biological mechanisms that could explain these observations, and with this study, I believe that we can narrow down at least part of the ‘why’ to CB1R, the receptor for both tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and the brains own cannabinoid chemical messengers.”

“These findings may provide insight into the biological basis of why cannabis use worsens schizophrenia, and, as a result, identify a novel target for new drug development that could improve treatments available for schizophrenia,” said Dr. Lewis.

Source: University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

Marijuana May Trigger Schizophrenia

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2016). Marijuana May Trigger Schizophrenia. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 13, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2008/07/08/marijuana-may-trigger-schizophrenia/2568.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 29 Jun 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 29 Jun 2016
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.