Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) Exacerbates Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Adolescent and Adult Female Rats


      • Wheel running is an effective method to assess inflammatory bowel disease in rats.
      • Trinitrobenzene sulphonic acid -induced inflammatory bowel disease depressed wheel running in adolescent and adult female rats.
      • Administration of Tetrahydrocannabinol exacerbated the depression of wheel running caused by inflammatory bowel disease.


      Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a life-long disorder that often begins between the ages of 15 and 30. Anecdotal reports suggest cannabinoids may be an effective treatment. This study sought to determine whether home cage wheel running is an effective method to assess IBD, and whether Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis, can restore wheel running depressed by IBD. Adolescent and adult female Sprague-Dawley rats were individually housed in a cage with a running wheel. Rats were injected with trinitrobenzene sulphonic acid (TNBS) into the rectum to induce IBD-like symptoms. One day later, both vehicle and TNBS treated rats were injected with a low dose of THC (0.32 mg/kg, s.c.) or vehicle. Administration of TNBS depressed wheel running in adolescent and adult rats. No antinociceptive effect of THC was evident when administered 1 day after TNBS. In fact, administration of THC prolonged TNBS-induced depression of wheel running for over 5 days in adolescent and adult rats. These results show that home cage wheel running is depressed by TNBS-induced IBD, making it a useful tool to evaluate the behavioral consequences of IBD, and that administration of THC, instead of producing antinociception, exacerbates TNBS-induced IBD.


      This article advances research on inflammatory bowel disease in two important ways: 1) Home cage wheel running is a new and sensitive tool to assess the behavioral consequences of IBD in adolescent and adult rats; and 2) Administration of the cannabinoid THC exacerbates the negative behavioral effects of IBD.

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