According to a recent study, reported on in Forbes magazine, the chemicals in marijuana may prevent pregnancy by making it difficult for a fertilized egg to implant in the uterus.
Dey, the Dorothy Overall Wells professor of pediatrics, cell and developmental biology and pharmacology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and his colleagues conducted their experiments in mice. It’s known that marijuana, the most widely used illegal drug among women of childbearing age, binds to two receptors, called cannabinoid receptors 1 and 2 (CB1 and 2). These receptors are found in the brain and also in sperm, eggs and newly formed embryos.
Typically, the two receptors are activated by a signaling molecule called anandamide, which is synthesized by an enzyme known as NAPE-PLD and then is degraded by another enzyme called FAAH. This balance, or “tone,” of the anandamide is crucial for the embryo to develop normally.
Dey and his team suppressed FAAH activity in the mice. This increased the level of anandamide, which mimics what happens when a woman smokes marijuana and increases the level of THC, which binds to the same receptor as anandamide. The results showed that when FAAH activity is suppressed in the embryos and oviduct, anandamide levels rise, preventing the embryos from completing their passage to the uterus and compromising the pregnancy.
“This is a major finding,” said Dey, “that if you block FAAH and disturb anandamide levels, there is a compromised pregnancy outcome.”
In an accompanying commentary in the journal, Herbert Schuel, professor emeritus of anatomy and cell biology at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York, said the Dey study findings “show that exogenous THC can swamp endogenous anandamide signaling systems,” affecting many processes in the body.
And Schuel offered another warning: Several drugs in development to suppress appetite work by modifying anandamide signaling. Since many women of reproductive age take weight-loss drugs, he suggested that these drugs must be carefully evaluated to determine the long-term effects on women.
The point that the article didn’t touch on, and that interests me, is that these scientists have touched on a non-hormonal birth control. I wonder if this will be picked up on by a pharmaceutical company…….