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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The effect of chronic adolescent cannabinoid exposure on adult sexual behaviour Dang, Silivain Sili


Adolescence is a crucial sensitive period in the development of the endocannabinoid system. Perturbations to this system during adolescence using exogenous CB₁ receptor ligands produces long-lasting changes in adult behaviours, though potential effects on sexual behaviour remains to be fully explored experimentally. This was investigated in two studies: study one examined the effects of adolescent administration of cannabinoids on adult sexual behaviours in male rats, while study two did the same in female rats. In study one, adolescent male rats were administered CB1 agonist HU-210, CB₁ antagonist AM-251, or no drug chronically during adolescence. Then they received drug abstinence until adulthood, followed by sexual behaviour testing. Study two used similar methods in females. In study one, AM-251 decreased sexual behaviour compared to control while HU-210 increased it. In study two, female sexual behaviour was not significantly affected by any drug treatment. The results for males are opposite of past findings on the effect of adult cannabinoid exposure, which show that CB₁ receptor agonism in adulthood decreases sexual functioning while antagonism increases it. This shows that the endocannabinoid system is involved in the adolescent development of normative adult male sexual behaviour. Further research is needed to fully contextualize the results for females, though it appears female sexual behaviour may be less vulnerable than male sexual behaviour to adolescent endocannabinoid system disruptions. Findings from these studies will contribute to an understanding of how the endocannabinoid system is involved in the development of sexual behaviour, how disregulation during adolescence may underlie sexual dysfunctions, and the potential risks of adolescent cannabis consumption on sexual health.

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