Analysis of the Uptake, Metabolism, and Behavioral Effects of Cannabinoids on Zebrafish Larvae


The Cannabis sativa plant contains numerous phytocannabinoids and terpenes with known or potential biological activity. For decades, plant breeders have been breeding the Cannabis plant to control for a desired ratio of the major cannabinoids. A high-throughput in vivo model to understand the relationship between the chemical composition of different strains and their therapeutic potential then becomes of value. Measuring changes in the behavioral patterns of zebrafish larvae is an established model with which to test the biological activity of neuroactive compounds. However, there is currently little information regarding the uptake kinetics and metabolism of compounds by larvae. In this study, we chose to compare the uptake kinetics and metabolism of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) alone or in combination with their effects on larval behavior. We have shown that both compounds have distinct behavioral patterns and concentration response profiles. Additionally, the uptake kinetics observed for each compound appears to correlate with the change in behavior observed in the behavioral assays. When combinations of THC and CBD were tested there were shifts in both the behavioral activity and the uptake kinetics of each compound compared with when they were tested alone. Finally, the THC/CBD-derived metabolites detected in the larvae are similar to those found in mammalian systems. This study thus provides a model for further testing of additional cannabinoids and potentially plant extracts.



zebrafish ; cannabinoid ; metabolism ; behavior ; THC ; CBD