Does dopamine mediate the psychosis-inducing effects of cannabis? A review and integration of findings across disciplines

R. Kuepper, P.D. Morrison, Jim van Os, R.M. Murray, G. Kenis, C. Henquet

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

90 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

General population epidemiological studies have consistently found that cannabis use increases the risk of developing psychotic disorders in a dose-dependent manner. While the epidemiological signal between cannabis and psychosis has gained considerable attention, the biological mechanism whereby cannabis increases risk for psychosis remains poorly understood. Animal research suggests that delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the main psychoactive component of cannabis) increases dopamine levels in several regions of the brain, including striatal and prefrontal areas. Since dopamine is hypothesized to represent a crucial common final pathway between brain biology and actual experience of psychosis, a focus on dopamine may initially be productive in the examination of the psychotomimetic effects of cannabis. Therefore, this review examines the evidence concerning the interactions between THC, endocannabinoids and dopamine in the cortical as well as subcortical regions implicated in psychosis, and considers possible mechanisms whereby cannabis-induced dopamine dysregulation may give rise to delusions and hallucinations. It is concluded that further study of the mechanisms underlying the link between cannabis and psychosis may be conducted productively from the perspective of progressive developmental sensitization, resulting from gene-environment interactions. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-117
Number of pages11
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Volume121
Issue number1-3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2010

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