Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Carr, Russell

Committee Member

Nanduri, Bindu

Committee Member

Kaplan, Barbara L.

Committee Member

Eells, Jeffery B.

Committee Member

Ross, Mathew K.

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms

Visible MSU Only for 3 Years

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Environmental Toxicology

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Veterinary Medicine


Environmental Toxicology Program


Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is an active component of marijuana. During recent years, the popularity of marijuana in the United States has increased tremendously. Marijuana edibles are a form of marijuana that has become very popular in recent years. These are easily accessible not only to adolescents but also to young children. According to recent statistical data, the consumption of marijuana edibles by children below the age of 5 has increased 600% in the states that have legalized marijuana. This has led to an adverse impact on children’s health as evidenced by a sudden increase in the number of children seeking emergency assistance in hospitals. In the current research, we addressed the issue of possible persistent effects on children’s behavior due to an earlier exposure to THC. Juvenile rats were treated with 10 mg/kg of THC from postnatal day 10 through 16. Once they reached adolescence, these rats were tested using several behavioral paradigms. To evaluate the biological basis for the behavioral deficits observed, brain samples obtained from these rats were subjected to proteomic analysis to determine any altered pathways related to the behavior. Our behavioral data indicated that juvenile exposure to THC has no effect on anxiety-related behavior in adolescents. However, we observed a significant effect of treatment on multiple parameters related to social interactions. Of these, episodes and time of social play were significantly increased in the THC treated rats suggesting alterations in the reward circuit function occurring as a result of developmental THC exposure. In the proteomics, we observed a significant effect on relevant canonical pathways such as the changes in thrombin and opioid signaling. Thrombin signaling in neurons is associated with processes involved in the connection between neurons and opioid signaling is involved in the activation processes of the reward circuit suggesting that juvenile THC exposure alters these processes in adolescence which could have detrimental effects on behavior. Overall, our data suggest that consumption of edibles by juveniles leads to altered behavioral and biochemical outcomes in adolescence. This may be detrimental in terms of the appropriate acquisition of skills necessary for meeting the challenges in future life.