Neurocognition and subjective experience following acute doses of the synthetic cannabinoid JWH-018: a phase 1, placebo-controlled, pilot study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Synthetic cannabinoids (often sold as Spice or K2) have become a very popular alternative to cannabis due to their easy access and portrayed safety. Controlled studies on the behavioural effects of synthetic cannabinoids are currently lacking, which hampers risk assessments of these compounds.

EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH: This is a first attempt to assess the influence of a synthetic cannabinoid, JWH-018, on neurocognition and subjective experience in humans after controlled administration. JWH-018, 2 and 3 mg, was administered to six healthy cannabis-experienced volunteers in a placebo-controlled, cross-over study following an escalating dosing schedule. Participants were monitored for 12 h after drug administration, and several neurocognitive measures and subjective questionnaires were taken.

KEY RESULTS: Serum concentrations of JWH-018 were highest after the 2 mg dose but generally low after administration of both doses. Both doses of JWH-018 were well tolerated, and no serious side effects were reported. Participants reported feeling more 'high' at 1 and 2 h after administration, particularly after the 2 mg dose. Behavioural impairments also emerged despite the low serum concentrations of JWH-018. The low dose of JWH-018 impaired performance on the tracking, divided attention and stop signal task.

CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS: JWH-018 dosing in the present study resulted in drug concentrations that were generally low and not fully representative of common use. Yet initial impairments of neurocognitive function and subjective feelings of high did emerge despite low levels of JWH-018 in serum. Higher doses are needed to obtain a more representative risk profile of JWH-018.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-28
Number of pages11
JournalBritish Journal of Pharmacology
Volume175
Issue number1
Early online date22 Nov 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018

Keywords

  • Journal Article
  • MOTOR CONTROL
  • MARIJUANA
  • ALCOHOL
  • PERFORMANCE
  • INHALATION
  • SPICE
  • MICE
  • SERUM
  • TANDEM MASS-SPECTROMETRY
  • RECEPTOR AGONIST
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Status and Dementia Tests
  • Naphthalenes/administration & dosage
  • Indoles/administration & dosage
  • Young Adult
  • Street Drugs/pharmacology
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Affect/drug effects
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Pilot Projects
  • Cognition/drug effects
  • Adolescent
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1

Cite this

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title = "Neurocognition and subjective experience following acute doses of the synthetic cannabinoid JWH-018: a phase 1, placebo-controlled, pilot study",
abstract = "BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Synthetic cannabinoids (often sold as Spice or K2) have become a very popular alternative to cannabis due to their easy access and portrayed safety. Controlled studies on the behavioural effects of synthetic cannabinoids are currently lacking, which hampers risk assessments of these compounds.EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH: This is a first attempt to assess the influence of a synthetic cannabinoid, JWH-018, on neurocognition and subjective experience in humans after controlled administration. JWH-018, 2 and 3 mg, was administered to six healthy cannabis-experienced volunteers in a placebo-controlled, cross-over study following an escalating dosing schedule. Participants were monitored for 12 h after drug administration, and several neurocognitive measures and subjective questionnaires were taken.KEY RESULTS: Serum concentrations of JWH-018 were highest after the 2 mg dose but generally low after administration of both doses. Both doses of JWH-018 were well tolerated, and no serious side effects were reported. Participants reported feeling more 'high' at 1 and 2 h after administration, particularly after the 2 mg dose. Behavioural impairments also emerged despite the low serum concentrations of JWH-018. The low dose of JWH-018 impaired performance on the tracking, divided attention and stop signal task.CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS: JWH-018 dosing in the present study resulted in drug concentrations that were generally low and not fully representative of common use. Yet initial impairments of neurocognitive function and subjective feelings of high did emerge despite low levels of JWH-018 in serum. Higher doses are needed to obtain a more representative risk profile of JWH-018.",
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author = "Theunissen, {Eef L} and Hutten, {Nadia R P W} and Mason, {Natasha L} and Toennes, {Stefan W.} and Kuypers, {Kim P C} and {de Sousa Fernandes Perna}, {Eliza B} and Ramaekers, {Johannes G}",
note = "{\circledC} 2017 The British Pharmacological Society.",
year = "2018",
month = "1",
doi = "10.1111/bph.14066",
language = "English",
volume = "175",
pages = "18--28",
journal = "British Journal of Pharmacology",
issn = "0007-1188",
publisher = "Wiley",
number = "1",

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TY - JOUR

T1 - Neurocognition and subjective experience following acute doses of the synthetic cannabinoid JWH-018

T2 - a phase 1, placebo-controlled, pilot study

AU - Theunissen, Eef L

AU - Hutten, Nadia R P W

AU - Mason, Natasha L

AU - Toennes, Stefan W.

AU - Kuypers, Kim P C

AU - de Sousa Fernandes Perna, Eliza B

AU - Ramaekers, Johannes G

N1 - © 2017 The British Pharmacological Society.

PY - 2018/1

Y1 - 2018/1

N2 - BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Synthetic cannabinoids (often sold as Spice or K2) have become a very popular alternative to cannabis due to their easy access and portrayed safety. Controlled studies on the behavioural effects of synthetic cannabinoids are currently lacking, which hampers risk assessments of these compounds.EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH: This is a first attempt to assess the influence of a synthetic cannabinoid, JWH-018, on neurocognition and subjective experience in humans after controlled administration. JWH-018, 2 and 3 mg, was administered to six healthy cannabis-experienced volunteers in a placebo-controlled, cross-over study following an escalating dosing schedule. Participants were monitored for 12 h after drug administration, and several neurocognitive measures and subjective questionnaires were taken.KEY RESULTS: Serum concentrations of JWH-018 were highest after the 2 mg dose but generally low after administration of both doses. Both doses of JWH-018 were well tolerated, and no serious side effects were reported. Participants reported feeling more 'high' at 1 and 2 h after administration, particularly after the 2 mg dose. Behavioural impairments also emerged despite the low serum concentrations of JWH-018. The low dose of JWH-018 impaired performance on the tracking, divided attention and stop signal task.CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS: JWH-018 dosing in the present study resulted in drug concentrations that were generally low and not fully representative of common use. Yet initial impairments of neurocognitive function and subjective feelings of high did emerge despite low levels of JWH-018 in serum. Higher doses are needed to obtain a more representative risk profile of JWH-018.

AB - BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Synthetic cannabinoids (often sold as Spice or K2) have become a very popular alternative to cannabis due to their easy access and portrayed safety. Controlled studies on the behavioural effects of synthetic cannabinoids are currently lacking, which hampers risk assessments of these compounds.EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH: This is a first attempt to assess the influence of a synthetic cannabinoid, JWH-018, on neurocognition and subjective experience in humans after controlled administration. JWH-018, 2 and 3 mg, was administered to six healthy cannabis-experienced volunteers in a placebo-controlled, cross-over study following an escalating dosing schedule. Participants were monitored for 12 h after drug administration, and several neurocognitive measures and subjective questionnaires were taken.KEY RESULTS: Serum concentrations of JWH-018 were highest after the 2 mg dose but generally low after administration of both doses. Both doses of JWH-018 were well tolerated, and no serious side effects were reported. Participants reported feeling more 'high' at 1 and 2 h after administration, particularly after the 2 mg dose. Behavioural impairments also emerged despite the low serum concentrations of JWH-018. The low dose of JWH-018 impaired performance on the tracking, divided attention and stop signal task.CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS: JWH-018 dosing in the present study resulted in drug concentrations that were generally low and not fully representative of common use. Yet initial impairments of neurocognitive function and subjective feelings of high did emerge despite low levels of JWH-018 in serum. Higher doses are needed to obtain a more representative risk profile of JWH-018.

KW - Journal Article

KW - MOTOR CONTROL

KW - MARIJUANA

KW - ALCOHOL

KW - PERFORMANCE

KW - INHALATION

KW - SPICE

KW - MICE

KW - SERUM

KW - TANDEM MASS-SPECTROMETRY

KW - RECEPTOR AGONIST

KW - Single-Blind Method

KW - Humans

KW - Male

KW - Mental Status and Dementia Tests

KW - Naphthalenes/administration & dosage

KW - Indoles/administration & dosage

KW - Young Adult

KW - Street Drugs/pharmacology

KW - Adult

KW - Female

KW - Affect/drug effects

KW - Cross-Over Studies

KW - Pilot Projects

KW - Cognition/drug effects

KW - Adolescent

KW - Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1

U2 - 10.1111/bph.14066

DO - 10.1111/bph.14066

M3 - Article

C2 - 29164599

VL - 175

SP - 18

EP - 28

JO - British Journal of Pharmacology

JF - British Journal of Pharmacology

SN - 0007-1188

IS - 1

ER -