Behavioral aspects and neurobiological properties underlying medical cannabis treatment in Shank3 mouse model of autism spectrum disorder

Shani Poleg, Emad Kourieh, Angela Ruban, Guy Shapira, Noam Shomron, Boaz Barak, Daniel Offen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disease with a wide spectrum of manifestation. The core symptoms of ASD are persistent deficits in social communication, and restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities. These are often accompanied by intellectual disabilities. At present, there is no designated effective treatment for the core symptoms and co-morbidities of ASD. Recently, interest is rising in medical cannabis as a treatment for ASD, with promising clinical data. However, there is a notable absence of basic pre-clinical research in this field. In this study, we investigate the behavioral and biochemical effects of long-term oral treatment with CBD-enriched medical cannabis oil in a human mutation-based Shank3 mouse model of ASD. Our findings show that this treatment alleviates anxiety and decreases repetitive grooming behavior by over 70% in treated mutant mice compared to non-treated mutant mice. Furthermore, we were able to uncover the involvement of CB1 receptor (CB1R) signaling in the Avidekel oil mechanism, alongside a mitigation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) glutamate concentrations. Subsequently, RNA sequencing (RNA seq) of cerebellar brain samples revealed changes in mRNA expression of several neurotransmission-related genes post-treatment. Finally, our results question the relevancy of CBD enrichment of medical cannabis for treating the core symptoms of ASD, and emphasize the importance of the THC component for alleviating deficits in repetitive and social behaviors in ASD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number524
JournalTranslational Psychiatry
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021

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