FASEB J. 2022 May;36 Suppl 1. doi: 10.1096/fasebj.2022.36.S1.R3304.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-addictive psychoactive phytochemical from Cannabis sativa that is increasingly used to manage pain. The potential for CBD to ameliorate some psychiatric disorder symptoms has been suggested, including the social behavior deficits of autism. To test this hypothesis, adult male BTBRT+Itpr3tf/J (BTBR) mice, a model of idiopathic autism, were acutely treated with vehicle or 0.1, 1, or 10 mg/kg CBD. Social interaction preference was assessed 50 min after treatment, followed by social novelty preference at 60 min, marble burying at 75 min and social dominance at 120 min. CBD (10 mg/kg) enhanced BTBR social interaction but not social novelty preference, marble burying or dominance, with serum levels = 29 ± 11 ng/mg at 3 h post-injection. Next, acute 10 mg/kg CBD was compared to vehicle treatment in serotonin transporter (SERT) knockout mice, as SERT deficiency is an autism risk factor, and in C57BL6/J mice. CBD treatment generally enhanced social interaction preference and attenuated social novelty preference, yet neither marble burying nor dominance was affected. These findings show acute treatment with purified CBD can enhance social interaction preference at a relatively low dose. However, the pharmacological target(s) by which this low dose of CBD enhanced sociability remain to be demonstrated. Any use of unregulated CBD products to treat autism symptoms in children is not advisable until product purity and dose are strictly controlled, and acute versus long term treatment effects are better known.