Background: Women report greater sensitivity to the subjective effects of Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Similarly, female rodents tend to be more sensitive to some pharmacological effects of THC and synthetic cannabinoids. This study examined sex differences in discriminative stimulus and response rate effects of THC and synthetic cannabinoids in rats.
Methods: A cumulative dosing THC discrimination procedure was utilized to evaluate sex differences in the discriminative stimulus effects of THC and three synthetic cannabinoids: CP47,497, WIN55,212-2, and JWH-018. Sex differences in the effects of these four compounds and a degradant of A-834735 on response rates also were assessed in a food-reinforced discrete dosing procedure.
Results: Females required a lower training dose than males for acquisition of the discrimination. Further, THC was more potent at producing rimonabant-reversible discriminative stimulus and response rate effects in females. While synthetic cannabinoids were more potent in producing THC-like effects than was THC in female rats, greater discrepancies were observed in male rats. Similar sensitivity to the response rate-decreasing effects induced by most, but not all (A-834735 degradant), synthetic cannabinoids was seen in both sexes.
Conclusions: This study represents one of the first direct comparisons of sex differences in THC discrimination. Females were more sensitive to THC's effects, which may be related, in part, to sex differences in THC metabolism. Synthetic cannabinoids were more potent than THC in both sexes, but were considerably more so in male than in female rats. Future research should emphasize further characterization of sex differences in cannabinoid pharmacology. (C) 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.