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Endocannabinoids regulate different aspects of neurodevelopment. In utero exposure to the exogenous psychoactive cannabinoid Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC), has been linked with abnormal cortical development in animal models. However, much less is known about the actions of endocannabinoids in human neurons. Here we investigated the effect of the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2AG) and Δ9-THC on the development of neuronal morphology and activation of signaling kinases, in cortical neurons derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs). Our data indicate that the cannabinoid type 1 receptor (CB1R), but not the cannabinoid 2 receptor (CB2R), GPR55 or TRPV1 receptors, is expressed in young, immature hiPSC-derived cortical neurons. Consistent with previous reports, 2AG and Δ9-THC negatively regulated neurite outgrowth. Interestingly, acute exposure to both 2AG and Δ9-THC inhibited phosphorylation of serine/threonine kinase extracellular signal-regulated protein kinases (ERK1/2), whereas Δ9-THC also reduced phosphorylation of Akt (aka PKB). Moreover, the CB1R inverse agonist SR 141716A attenuated the decrease in neurite outgrowth and ERK1/2 phosphorylation induced by 2AG and Δ9-THC. Taken together, our data suggest that hiPSC-derived cortical neurons express CB1Rs and are responsive to exogenous cannabinoids. Thus, hiPSC-neurons may represent a good cellular model for investigating the role of the endocannabinoid system in regulating cellular processes in developing human neurons.

Original publication




Journal article


Mol Cell Neurosci

Publication Date



Cannabinoid type 1 receptor, Endocannabinoids, High content screening, Human neuron, Induced pluripotent stem cells, THC