Cannabis exposure resulted in malformations and lower survival rates for zebrafish embryos, shows a new study by biologists at the University of Alberta.
The developing embryos exposed to chemical components of cannabis, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), suffered detrimental effects, said Declan Ali, professor in the department of biological sciences, in a Thursday news release.
“We found that fewer eggs hatched and fewer fish survived,” said Ali, author of the study. “The embryos also tended to be smaller in length. They exhibited some mild malformations such as cardiac edema and curvature of the back and the trunk.”
Researchers also found effects on neurological development, added Ali, associate dean (research) in the faculty of science.
The fish embryos were exposed to THC and CBD during the critical developmental stage known as gastrulation, in this case, five hours after fertilization. In humans, gastrulation occurs about three weeks after fertilization.
“Our results suggest that, in a developing organism, exposure to THC and CBD has an effect,” said Ali. “We expose these embryos for a short, finite period of time, and then let them develop normally. Despite this, we are seeing effects throughout development, and even into adulthood.”
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