Characterizing the effects of poorly studied cannabinoids on larval zebrafish behaviour

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University of New Brunswick


Cannabis sativa has been used medicinally for thousands of years. However, research on its health effects has been hindered due to prohibition and social stigma. Legalization provides Canadian researchers with the opportunity to apply modern research methods to better understand the benefits and dangers of pharmaceutical cannabinoids. The two main phytocannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). In addition, there are many lesser-known phytocannabinoids such as cannabinol (CBN), and cannabigerol (CBG) each with isomeric variants, which are poorly studied. In this thesis I document the behavioural effects of THC isomers as well as unexpected deleterious effects of CBD and CBN. I also bring attention to the importance of cannabinoid solubility in the context of aquatic research models. This research provides refinements to the use of zebrafish as model organisms for cannabinoid research, improves our fundamental understanding of how cannabinoids affect vertebrate behaviour, and highlights some of their potential as therapeutics.