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Researchers at John Hopkins Medicine have uncovered a possible explanation for how marijuana may damage the teenage brain using experiments involving adolescent mice.

Research showed that marijuana exposure increases inflammation in a specific type of brain cell in adolescent mice that carries a rare genetic mutation linked to schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other major psychiatric disorders.

Mikhail Pletnikov, M.D., P.h.D, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, and his team were able mimic the age discrepancies and genetics of adolescent humans who are predisposed to the mental illnesses, as well as monitor how the effects take hold later in life.

"The inflammation we saw in our mice is probably activated in many people who smoke marijuana, but our results may help explain why and how some mice and some people are genetically predisposed to experience an enhanced inflammatory response and brain damage.” said Pletnikov.

The team found that they were also able to prevent the brain damage in the susceptible mice by using an anti-inflammatory prior to THC exposure. The adolescent mice who were given the ant-inflammatory medication showed no cognitive differences from those who did not have any THC, showcasing  potential for human adolescents to protect themselves from the mental disorders later on in life.

The study will be published in a 2019 print issue of the journal Biological Psychiatry, and the team hopes to continue its studies with other animal models to determine how various genetic vulnerabilities may play a role in marijuana’s effects on the developing brain.

Source: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-12/jhm-hmm121418.php

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