The present chapter summarizes integrated neurochemical, morphological and neurobehavioural evidence, in particular from our laboratory, which emphasize the short- and long-term consequences of prenatal exposure to cannabinoids on rat glutamate transmission and cognitive functions. In addition, in order to clarify the scientific context in which the work has been developed, a summary of the human studies focused on the postnatal consequences of maternal marijuana use during pregnancy and/or lactation in neurobehavioral and cognitive functioning in the offspring, is reported in the first part of the chapter. The results obtained provide evidence that maternal exposure to the cannabinoids receptor agonist WIN55,212-2 induces an impairment of cognitive capacities in the offspring. This impairment is associated with alterations of cortical and hippocampal glutamate outflow, cortical neuron morphology and hippocampal long term potentiation. These findings are in line with clinical data showing that the consumption of marijuana by women during pregnancy has negative consequences on the cognitive functions of their children. Thus, although it is difficult and sometimes misleading to extrapolate findings obtained from animal models to humans, the possibility that an alteration of glutamate transmission might underlie, at least in part, some of the cognitive deficits affecting the offspring of marijuana users, is supported.
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