Pharmacological evaluation of
aerosolized cannabinoids in mice

Lichtman AH, Peart J, Poklis JL,
Bridgen DT, Razdan RK, Wilson DM,
Poklis A, Meng Y, Byron PR, Martin BR
Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology,
Medical College of Virginia,
Virginia Commonwealth University,
MCV Campus, PO Box 980613,
23298-0613, Richmond,
Eur J Pharmacol 2000 Jul 7; 399(2-3):141-9


The reemergence on the debate of the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes has been the impetus for developing an acceptable delivery form of aerosolized cannabinoids. The goals of the present study were to: (1) develop and characterize the physical properties of an aerosolized form of Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta(9)-THC), the major psychoactive constituent present in marijuana; and (2) assess the pharmacological effects of cannabinoid inhalation in mice. A Small Particle Aerosol Generator (SPAG) nebulizer, used to generate the aerosol, had an output of approximately 0.154 mg/l of aerosolized Delta(9)-THC with a 2.0 &mgr;m mass median aerodynamic diameter and a 2.2 geometric standard deviation (GSD). Virtually all the particles were less than 5.0 &mgr;m in diameter suggesting that they were sufficiently small to penetrate deeply into the lungs. Inhalation exposure to aerosolized Delta(9)-THC in mice elicited antinociceptive effects that were dependent on concentration and exposure time with an estimated Delta(9)-THC dose of 1.8 mg/kg. On the other hand, inhalation exposure to Delta(9)-THC failed to produce two other indices indicative of cannabinoid activity, hypothermia and decreases in spontaneous locomotor activity. The antinociceptive effects occurred within 5 min of exposure and lasted approximately 40 min in duration. The cannabinoid receptor antagonist N-(piperidin-1-yl)-5-(4-chlorophenyl)-1-(2, 4-dichlorophenyl)-4-methyl-1H-pyrazole-3-carboxamide HCl (SR 141716A), but not naloxone, blocked these antinociceptive effects (AD(50)=0.09 mg/kg) indicating a cannabinoid receptor mechanism of action. Similarly, inhalation exposure to a water soluble cannabinoid analog, 3-(5'-cyano-1', 1'dimethylheptyl)-1-(4-N-morpholinobutyrloxy)-Delta(8)-tetrahydrocann abinol (O-1057), produced antinociception that was blocked by SR 141716A. These results demonstrate that the development of an aerosolized form of cannabinoids for human medicinal use is feasible.

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