Introduction: Despite the legalization of cannabis in Canada, researchers have yet to understand the extent of its side effects on neural development. This is especially true when considering the impact of cannabis on those with mental illnesses including depression. One vital protein involved in the growth and differentiation of neurons in the brain is the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). The aim of our proposed study is to evaluate how the neural health of depressed individuals is impacted by Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) consumption, the primary psychoactive component of cannabis, in comparison to those without depression by comparing their respective BDNF levels.
Methods: To test this, we will use olfactory bulbectomised rats as models for depression and measure the BDNF concentration in their frontal cortices, hippocampi, and amygdalae following controlled exposure to THC for 21 days via intraperitoneal injections. BDNF will be detected via Western blot and quantified using BDNF-specific ELISAs.
Conclusion: Our study could influence how society views the risks associated with the use of cannabis amongst individuals with depression. Given that BDNF baseline levels are lower in individuals with depression versus those without, the potentially significant effect of BDNF on overall neural development could possibly be impacted by recurrent THC dosages. Our study could impact the frequency of usage of THC amongst depressed individuals.
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