The effect of δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol on 5-HT3 receptors depends on the current density

K. H.S. Yang, D. Isaev, M. Morales, G. Petroianu, S. Galadari, M. Oz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effects of δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of cannabis, on the function of 5-HT type 3 (5-HT3) receptors were investigated using a two-electrode voltage clamp technique in Xenopus oocytes, and a whole-cell patch clamp technique in rat nodose ganglion neurons. In oocytes injected with 3 ng cRNA of 5-HT3A receptor, THC reversibly inhibited currents evoked with 5-HT (1 μM) in a concentration-dependent manner (IC50=1.2 μM). The extent of THC inhibition was inversely correlated with the amount of cRNA injected and the mean 5-HT3A receptor current densities. Pretreatment with actinomycin D, which inhibits transcription, decreased the mean 5-HT3 receptor current density and increased the extent of THC inhibition on 5-HT3 receptor-mediated currents. The IC50 values for THC increased from 285 nM to 1.2 μM in oocytes injected with 1 and 3 ng of 5-HT3A cRNA, respectively. In radioligand binding studies on membrane preparations of oocytes expressing 5-HT3A receptors, THC did not alter the specific binding of a 5-HT3A receptor antagonist, [3H]GR65630. In the presence of 1 μM THC, the maximum 5-HT-induced response was also inhibited without a significant change in 5-HT potency, indicating that THC acts as a noncompetitive antagonist on 5-HT3 receptors. In adult rat nodose ganglion neurons, application of 1 μM THC caused a significant inhibition of 5-HT3 receptors, extent of which correlated with the density of 5-HT-induced currents, indicating that the observed THC effects occur in mammalian neurons. The inhibition of 5-HT3 receptors by THC may contribute to its pharmacological actions in nociception and emesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)40-49
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 24 2010


  • 5-HT receptor
  • Cannabinoid
  • Nodose ganglion neuron
  • Xenopus oocytes
  • δ-tetrahydrocannabinol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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