Effect of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol on mitochondrial processes

Joan Munroe Mahoney, Robert A. Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

44 Scopus citations


The major psychoactive component of marijuana, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), strongly affected rat liver mitochondria in vitro. At concentrations of 15-60 nmoles/mg of mitochondrial protein, THC uncoupled state IV respiration and decreased respiratory control and ADP/O ratios. Energy-linked changes in fluorescence of 8-anilino-1-naphthalene sulfonate were prevented or reversed by THC. THC also produced large amplitude swelling of mitochondria and release of matrix enzymes. These effects were greatly potentiated by Mg2+. Likewise, flocculation of mixed phospholipid micelles by Mg2+ was potentiated greatly by low concentrations of THC. Studies with micelles prepared from purified phospholipids suggest that THC may specifically destabilize the cardiolipin in mixed micelles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1217-1226
Number of pages10
JournalBiochemical Pharmacology
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 1972

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Pharmacology

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