Gonadal hormones do not alter the development of antinociceptive tolerance to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol in adult rats
- On the pre-chronic test, THC was more potent in sham-GDX females than males.<br>- In GDX females, progesterone decreased THC's antinociceptive potency.<br>- In GDX males, testosterone did not alter THC's antinociceptive potency.<br>- Tolerance to THC was greater in sham-GDX females than males, but this sex difference was not hormone-mediated.<br><br>The purpose of this study was to determine whether sex differences in the development of antinociceptive tolerance to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are due to activational effects of gonadal hormones. Rats were sham-gonadectomized (sham-GDX) or gonadectomized (GDX). GDX females received no hormone replacement (GDX + 0), estradiol (GDX + E2), progesterone (GDX + P4), or both (GDX + E2/P4). GDX male rats received no hormone (GDX + 0) or testosterone (GDX + T). Two weeks later, antinociceptive potency of THC was determined (pre-chronic test) on the warm water tail withdrawal and paw pressure assays. Vehicle or a sex-specific THC dose (females, 5.7 mg/kg, males, 9.9 mg/kg) was administered twice-daily for 9 days, then the THC dose–effect curves were re-determined (post-chronic test). On the pre-chronic test (both assays), THC was more potent in sham-GDX females than males, and gonadectomy did not alter this sex difference. In GDX females, P4 significantly decreased THC's antinociceptive potency, whereas E2 had no effect. In GDX males, T did not alter THC's antinociceptive potency. After chronic THC treatment, THC's antinociceptive potency was decreased more in sham-GDX females than males, on the tail withdrawal test; this sex difference in tolerance was not altered in GDX or hormone-treated groups. These results suggest that greater antinociceptive tolerance in females, which occurred despite females receiving 40% less THC than males, is not due to activational effects of gonadal hormones.