Time course of tetrahydrocannabinol-induced changes in regional cerebral blood flow measured with positron emission tomography

Roy J. Mathew, William H. Wilson, Timothy G. Turkington, Thomas C. Hawk, R. Edward Coleman, Timothy R DeGrado, James Provenzale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

79 Scopus citations


While several studies are available on the immediate effects of marijuana and its active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF), we examined the effects of intravenous infusion of THC on rCBF and behavior over a 120-min. period using positron emission tomography. Indices of rCBF, intoxication and physiology were measured at baseline and 30, 60, 90 and 120 min. after a 20-min. intravenous infusion of 0.15 or 0.25 mg/min. of THC, or placebo given to 47 subjects. The rCBF remained increased up to 120 min. after the high-dose THC infusion. Significant increases were seen in global perfusion and in the frontal, insular and anterior cingulate regions. Changes were greater in the right hemisphere. After the high dose, cerebellar flow was increased at both 30 and 60 min. The anterioposterior ratio of cortical rCBF increased in both hemispheres, and remained significantly greater than in the placebo condition until 120 min. in the right hemisphere. Intoxication peaked at 30 min. and remained elevated at 120 min. THC had significant effects on global CBF and rCBF, and feeling intoxicated accounted for changes in rCBF better than plasma level of THC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-185
Number of pages13
JournalPsychiatry Research - Neuroimaging
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 30 2002
Externally publishedYes



  • Cerebral blood flow
  • Marijuana intoxication
  • Physiological changes
  • Positron emission tomography
  • Tetrahydrocannabinol
  • Time course

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Psychology(all)

Cite this