Nav: Home

Cannabis addiction influenced by genetic makeup

April 23, 2019

Some people may be more genetically prone to cannabis addiction, finds a new UCL-led study.

The researchers say their investigation of three genetic markers, published in Addiction Biology, could inform why some people become dependent of cannabis.

"We were interested in asking whether these genetic markers could predict addiction-related responses after inhaling doses of cannabis, such as how much our attention is drawn to cannabis-related pictures," said lead researcher Dr Chandni Hindocha (UCL Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit).

The researchers were investigating three different markers of genetic variation which have previously been implicated in cannabis addiction, but have not all been considered in the same study before. The variants are involved in the body's endocannabinoid system.

For the study, 48 cannabis users took cannabis using a vaporiser, and conducted tests related to addiction predisposition: a test for drug cue salience (which means how attention-grabbing cannabis-related images were versus neutral images, such as side-by-side images of a woman smoking cannabis and a woman holding a pen near her mouth); a satiety measure (testing whether they still want more cannabis after they've already had some) and a craving measure. They were also tested for the three genetic markers.

The researchers chose to focus on the specific cognitive mechanisms involved in addiction, rather than a general measure of cannabis dependency, to get a more detailed picture of how genetic markers affect the brain mechanisms that contribute to long-term drug dependency.

The researchers found differences to drug cue salience and state satiety for all three genetic variants. One genotype in particular, regarding the Cannabinoid receptor 1 gene, was associated with people continuing to want more cannabis after having used it, and continuing to be more drawn to cannabis-related imagery while under the influence.

The researchers say this suggests that people with that genetic marker could be more prone to cannabis addiction, especially as THC, the psychoactive component in cannabis, binds to this receptor.

The researchers say that it's easy to test for these genetic variants, but that more research is needed to optimise such a test.

"There's still more work to be done to clarify how these genetic variants impact drug effects, and to identify what other factors should be considered to gauge how vulnerable someone is to cannabis addiction.

With time, we hope that our results could pave the way towards more personalised approaches to medicinal cannabis prescription," said the study's senior author Professor Val Curran (UCL Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit).

Dr Hindocha said: "We hope that our findings could lead to the development of a test that could inform clinicians who are considering prescribing a cannabis-derived medication, as we learn more about which genes affect how people react to cannabis,"

Co-author Dr Tom Freeman (University of Bath) added: "Our findings have the potential to inform precision medicine targeting the rising clinical need for treatment of cannabis use disorders."
-end-
The study was conducted by researchers at UCL, University of Bath, King's College London, and the University of Exeter, and funded by the MRC alongside support from the National Institute for Health Research UCLH Biomedical Research Centre.

Notes to Editors

For more information or interview requests, please contact Tash Payne, UCL Media Relations. T: +44 (0)20 3108 9243, E: tash.payne@ucl.ac.uk

Chandni Hindocha, Tom Freeman, Grainne Schafer, Chelsea Gardner, Michael Bloomfield, Elvira Bramon, Celia Morgan, and H. Valerie Curran, 'Acute effects of cannabinoids on addiction endophenotypes are moderated by genes encoding the CB1 receptor and FAAH enzyme' will be published in Addiction Biology on Wednesday 24 April 2019, 00:01 UK time / Tuesday 24 April 00:01 US Eastern time and is under a strict embargo until this time.

About UCL (University College London)

UCL was founded in 1826. We were the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, the first to open up university education to those previously excluded from it, and the first to provide systematic teaching of law, architecture and medicine.

We are among the world's top universities, as reflected by performance in a range of international rankings and tables, and are committed to changing the world for the better.

Our community of over 41,500 students from 150 countries and over 12,500 staff pursues academic excellence, breaks boundaries and makes a positive impact on real world problems.

http://www.ucl.ac.uk | Follow us on Twitter @uclnews | Watch our YouTube channel YouTube.com/UCLTV

University College London

Related Cannabis Articles:

Cannabis could help alleviate depression and suicidality among people with PTSD
Cannabis may be helping Canadians cope with the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), new research suggests.
The frostier the flower, the more potent the cannabis
Cannabis flowers with the most mushroom-shaped hairs pack the biggest cannabinoid and fragrance punch, according to new research from the University of British Columbia.
Secrets of the molecular makeup of cannabis
High levels of cannabidiol (CBD) in cannabis can offset the neuropsychiatric effects of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) by preventing activation of an emotional processing pathway, according to research recently published in JNeurosci.
Chocolate muddles cannabis potency testing
Since the first states legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, several others have joined them, and cannabis-infused edibles, including gummy bears, cookies and chocolates, have flooded the market.
Study examines cannabis' effects on brain neurochemistry
A new Addiction Biology study provides the first evidence of a blunted response to stress-induced dopamine signaling in the brain's prefrontal cortex in individuals at high risk for psychosis who regularly used cannabis.
Cannabis treatment counters addiction: First study of its kind
An Australian study has demonstrated that cannabis-based medication helps tackle dependency on cannabis, one of the most widely used drugs globally.
Researchers link gene to cannabis abuse
New research from the national psychiatric project, iPSYCH, shows that a specific gene is associated with an increased risk of cannabis abuse.
Formation of habitual use drives cannabis addiction
A shift from brain systems controlling reward-driven use to habit-driven use differentiates heavy cannabis users who are addicted to the drug from users who aren't, according to a study in Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, published by Elsevier.
The origins of cannabis smoking: Marijuana use in the first millennium BC
A chemical residue study of incense burners from ancient burials at high elevations in the Pamir Mountains of western China has revealed psychoactive cannabinoids.
The origins of cannabis smoking: marijuana use in the first millennium BC
Cannabis has been cultivated as an oil-seed and fiber crop for millennia in East Asia.
More Cannabis News and Cannabis Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

In & Out Of Love
We think of love as a mysterious, unknowable force. Something that happens to us. But what if we could control it? This hour, TED speakers on whether we can decide to fall in — and out of — love. Guests include writer Mandy Len Catron, biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, musician Dessa, One Love CEO Katie Hood, and psychologist Guy Winch.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#542 Climate Doomsday
Have you heard? Climate change. We did it. And it's bad. It's going to be worse. We are already suffering the effects of it in many ways. How should we TALK about the dangers we are facing, though? Should we get people good and scared? Or give them hope? Or both? Host Bethany Brookshire talks with David Wallace-Wells and Sheril Kirschenbaum to find out. This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News. Related links: Why Climate Disasters Might Not Boost Public Engagement on Climate Change on The New York Times by Andrew Revkin The other kind...
Now Playing: Radiolab

An Announcement from Radiolab