Brain Imaging Reveals How Prolonged Intermittent Cannabis Can Induce Memory Deficits

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Italia V. Rolle, PhD and Dr. Tim McAfee, MD Office on Smoking and Health National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion CDC

Ana Maria Sebastião, PhD
Professor of Pharmacology and Neurosciences
Director Institute of Pharmacology and Neurosciences, Faculty of Medicine and
Francisco Mouro, PhD
Unit of Neurosciences, Institute of Molecular Medicine
University of Lisbon, Portugal

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: There is pressing need to comprehend how cannabinoid exposure impacts brain functioning. While cannabinoid-related research has increased exponentially in the last decade, the mechanisms through which cannabinoids affect brain functioning are still elusive. Specifically, we need to know how prolonged cannabinoid exposure affects important cognitive processes, such as memory, and also find the roots of those effects. This is particularly relevant considering that several countries have already approved cannabis-based medicines.

In this sense, our work sheds new light into the mechanisms underlaying the memory-deficits provoked by a continuous exposure to a cannabinoid drug. More precisely, using brain imaging techniques, we found that long-term exposure to a synthetic cannabinoid drug impairs the ability of key brain regions involved in learning and memory to communicate with each other. Our data points to the necessity of considering cannabinoid actions in a broader perspective, including brain circuitry and communication.  Continue reading

Synthetic Cannabinoids Put Teenagers at Cardiac Risk

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Bradley C. Clark, MD
Pediatric Cardiology Fellow – 3rd Year
Division of Cardiology
Children’s National Health System
Washington, DC 20010

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Clark: After consulting on multiple pediatric emergency room patients with K2 (synthetic cannabinoid) ingestion and electrocardiogram (ECG) abnormalities, my co-authors and I decided that it was worth taking a more detailed look at the potential cardiac effects of synthetic cannabinoids.

We did a retrospective chart review and discovered a total of 8 patients in a 3 year period (2011 – 2014) at our institution with reported synthetic cannabinoid ingestion and concern for myocardial injury.  There were 3 individuals with evidence of ECG abnormalities in a segmental pattern with increased cardiac enzyme levels (troponins).  The other 5 individuals had ECG abnormalities either without troponin elevations or were not specifically tested.  Each individual that had an echocardiogram performed had normal intracardiac anatomy with normal biventricular systolic function.

Given the elevated troponin levels and ECG abnormalities, there was a suspicion for myocardial ischemia in this small subset of patients without meeting specific criteria for myocardial infarction.  Interestingly, these individuals had completely normal echocardiograms and had no other potential cause of myocardial ischemia discovered by history.  Additionally, these were all teenage pediatric patients with documented K2 exposure without evidence of exposure to illegal substances.

K2 and other synthetic cannabinoids are known to cause analgesia and euphoria and can lead to a lack of symptomatology.  Therefore, individuals with synthetic cannabinoid ingestion may not complain of the prototypical cardiac symptoms (chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations) and may not have the workup to diagnose potential myocardial ischemia.

Continue reading