Microglia and Vapourized Cannabis
Microglia, the brain’s resident immune cells, are vital for healthy brain function. This is partially accomplished through their interactions with the primary brain cells, neurons, and those cells’ connections, synapses. Microglia are highly responsive to changes in the environment, including lifestyle factors, which can modify their functions and interactions with neurons and synapses, leading to alterations in behaviour, such as memory. Cannabis use has been recently legalized in Canada; however, our knowledge of how cannabis affects these important cells is not well-understood. Although previous work points to the potential of cannabis as an immunomodulatory agent, this work was performed with models that do not employ the same cannabis strains or routes of administration that humans use. Therefore, this work is the first of its kind to study the effect of inhaled cannabis on microglia using commercially available strains. It will provide, in both male and female mice, a multi-modal understanding of the effects of acute and chronic exposure on microglia, including their physiological and immunological roles. This is important to determine any therapeutic potential of cannabis use or contribute to implementing harm reduction and mitigation strategies in the case of any detrimental effects. We will establish how cannabis modulates microglial structure and function at baseline, so that we can next understand how the microglial response to cannabis changes in response to stress, infection, aging, and other contexts. Altogether this project will provide necessary information on the effects of inhaled cannabis on microglia, creating a foundation for the emergence of a new field of research.
Haley Vecchiarelli , University of Victoria
Partners and Donors
Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids (CCIC)/ M. Wayne and J. Coleman Family Fund