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Sex difference in brain CB1 receptor availability in man

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Heikki Laurikainen, Lauri Tuominen, Maria Tikka, Harri Merisaari, Reetta-Liina Armio, Elina Sormunen, Faith Borgan, Mattia Veronese, Oliver Howes, Merja Haaparanta-Solin, Olof Solin, Jarmo Hietala

Original languageEnglish
Early online date5 Oct 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Oct 2018


King's Authors


The endocannabinoid system (ECS) has a widespread neuromodulatory function in the central nervous system and is involved in important aspects of brain function including brain development, cortical rhythms, plasticity, reward, and stress sensitivity. Many of these effects are mediated via the cannabinoid CB1 receptor (CB1R) subtype. Animal studies convincingly show an interaction between the ECS and sex hormones, as well as a sex difference of higher brain CB1R in males. Human in vivo studies of sex difference have yielded discrepant findings. Gender differences in CB1R availability were investigated in vivo in 11 male and 11 female healthy volunteers using a specific CB1R tracer [18F]FMPEP-d2 and positron emission tomography (PET). Regional [18F]FMPEP-d2 distribution volume was used as a proxy for CB1R availability. In addition, we explored whether CB1R availability is linked to neuropsychological functioning. Relative to females, CB1R availability was on average 41% higher in males (p = 0.002) with a regionally specific effect larger in the posterior cingulate and retrosplenial cortices (p = 0.001). Inter-subject variability in CB1R availability was similar in both groups. Voxel-based analyses revealed an inverse association between CB1R availability and visuospatial working memory task performance in both groups (p 

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