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Effects of combined use of alcohol and delta-9-tetrahydrocannibinol on working memory in Long Evans rats


The increase in social acceptance and legalization of cannabis over the last several years is likely to increase the prevalence of its co-use with alcohol. In spite of this, the potential for effects unique to co-use of these drugs, especially in moderate doses, has been studied relatively infrequently. We addressed this in the current study using a laboratory rat model of voluntary drug intake. Periadolescent male and female Long-Evans rats were allowed to orally self-administer ethanol, Δ9-tetrahydrocannibinol (THC), both drugs, or their vehicle controls from postnatal day (P) 30 to P47. They were subsequently trained and tested on an instrumental behavior task that assesses attention, working memory and behavioral flexibility. Similar to previous work, consumption of THC reduced both ethanol and saccharin intake in both sexes. Blood samples taken 14 h following the final self-administration session revealed that females had higher levels of the THC metabolite THC-COOH. There were modest effects of THC on our delayed matching to position (DMTP) task, with females exhibiting reduced performance compared to their control group or male, drug using counterparts. However, there were no significant effects of co-use of ethanol or THC on DMTP performance, and drug effects were also not apparent in the reversal learning phase of the task when non-matching to position was required as the correct response. These findings are consistent with other published studies in rodent models showing that use of these drugs in low to moderate doses does not significantly impact memory or behavioral flexibility following a protracted abstinence period.