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[Health Research Board] Cannabis, adolescence and schizophrenia. (08 May 2012)

Research co-funded by the HRB indicates that using cannabis in your teens can cause physical changes in specific brain areas which can increase risk of developing schizophrenia.

The study was published in Nature’s Neuropsychopharmacology. Researchers from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) found that cannabis use during adolescence* can interact with a gene, called the COMT gene, to cause physical changes in the brain such as changes in cell size, density and protein levels.

The COMT gene provides instructions for making enzymes which breakdown a specific chemical messenger called dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps conduct signals from one nerve cell to another, particularly in the brains reward and pleasure centres. Adolescent cannabis use and its interaction with particular forms of the COMT gene have been shown to cause physical changes in the brain as well as increasing the risk of developing schizophrenia.

More details are available from the press release on the RCSI website at the link below. Press enquiries should be directed to Niamh Burdett in the RCSI Communications Office, t (01) 402 2218, e

*The research was carried out on adolescent mice and was approved by the RCSI Research Ethics Committee, and complied fully with all Irish and EU legislation.


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