Symposium on Sex, stress, immunity and neural development

Another symposium on sex differences! Viveros reiterated a point that Hodes made earlier that it is silly that many labs only study adult male rats, especially in addiction and impulsivity as there are many age and gender-mediated differences.

She also ran th rough the literature from her lab showing that cannabis exposure early in life has an influence on on memory and even psychosis…I think David Nutt might have something to say about that though.

Overall it looks like females are impaired on spatial memory Tasks after chronic, early life cannabinoids. Fittingly, females also have more highly functional CB1 receptors in the hippocampus and amygdala.

Viveros also discussed poly drug use in juveniles. Apparently kids these days smoke cigarettes to reduce the sedative effects of cannabis. Her lab models this in rats in the elevated plus maze by pretreating rats with nicotine and different doses of cannabinoids, also examining sex differences at the same time.

One of the most interesting sex differences was in ecstasy binging rats, where there were several divergences between the sexes on different behavioural tasks.

What I noted from all of Viveros’ experiments was that she is good about investigating the same types of behaviours but with different drugs of abuse, looking to see how the context of age, gender, and other substances interact to produce different behavioural phenotypes.

I guess it isn’t enough to just examine one drug in one sex at one time point, as in humans the story is much more complex and depends on stress and sex hormones, as well as other drugs that could be on board.

I am excited overall so far with the amount of data on adolescents that I have seen, as I am working on impulsivity and addiction and this seems to be the next big thing to look at in my field.


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