Cannabinoids are increasingly used to alleviate pain; however, tolerance to their antinociceptive effects, including those of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC), may limit their therapeutic utility. With more women than men using medical cannabis for pain relief, it is crucial to understand how sex influences cannabinoid-mediated antinociception and tolerance. Though studies in rats consistently find females are more sensitive to the acute antinociceptive effects of cannabinoids, our work with mice consistently finds the converse. The present study examined whether our observed sex differences in Δ9-THC-induced antinociception and tolerance are consistent across multiple mouse strains or are strain-dependent. Male and female C57BL/6J (B6), DBA/2, AKR, and CBA/J mice were assessed for differences in acute Δ9-THC-induced antinociception and hypothermia prior to and following seven days of once-daily Δ9-THC administration. Consistent with our previous findings, male B6 mice were more sensitive to the acute antinociceptive effects of Δ9-THC than female littermates, an effect which dissipated with age. B6 males had decreased cannabinoid expression in the PAG compared to females. While DBA and CBA female mice showed increased Δ9-THC-antinociception compared to male littermates at 30 and 10 mg/kg Δ9-THC, respectively, these differences were less pronounced at higher doses, revealing that dose of Δ9-THC may also be important. Overall, CBA mice were more sensitive to Δ9-THC-induced antinociception while AKR mice were less responsive. These studies highlight the therapeutic potential of Δ9-THC in pain management and underscore the importance of considering not only Δ9-THC dose as a function of sex, but potentially genetic differences when evaluating their clinical utility.
- Sex differences
- tolerance, mouse strain