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Marijuana use increases miscarriage risk

NewKarela.com, August 2, 2006

Washington: Women who use marijuana at the time of conception and during the early stages of their pregnancy are putting their children at risk, for a new study has found that the use of the drug prevents the embryos' safe passage from the ovary to the uterus, resulting in miscarriages.

Marijuana binds to 2 receptors cannabinoid receptors 1 and 2 (CB1, CB2) that are found in the brain and other organs including sperm, eggs, and newly formed embryos.

Normally, these 2 receptors are activated by the naturally occurring signalling molecule anandamide, which is formed by the enzyme NAPE-PLD. This formation is carefully balanced with its degradation by the enzyme FAAH, resulting in a finely tuned local "anandamide tone" in embryos and the oviduct.

This balance is required for normal embryonic development, transport along the oviduct, implantation in the uterus, and full-term pregnancy.

In the study conducted on a mouse model, a team of researchers led by Sudhansu Dey from Vanderbilt University found that suppression of FAAH activity in the embryos and oviduct elevates anandamide levels, which inhibits embryonic development and prevents embryos from completing their passage to the uterus, causing impaired fertility.

The researchers also showed that administration to the mice of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the major psychoactive component of marijuana also binds to CB1, swamps normal anandamide tone, causing implantation of the embryo in the earliest stages of pregnancy to fail.

The study appears in the August issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.