With the legalization of marijuana (
Cannabis sativa) and increasing use during pregnancy, it is important to understand its impact on exposed offspring. Specifically, the effects of Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC), the major psychoactive component of cannabis, on fetal ovarian development and long-term reproductive health are not fully understood. The aim of this study was to assess the effect of prenatal exposure to Δ9-THC on ovarian health in adult rat offspring. At 6 months of age, Δ9-THC-exposed offspring had accelerated folliculogenesis with apparent follicular development arrest, but no persistent effects on circulating steroid levels. Ovaries from Δ9-THC-exposed offspring had reduced blood vessel density in association with decreased expression of the pro-angiogenic factor VEGF and its receptor VEGFR-2, as well as an increase in the anti-angiogenic factor thrombospondin 1 (TSP-1). Collectively, these data suggest that exposure to Δ9-THC during pregnancy alters follicular dynamics during postnatal life, which may have long-lasting detrimental effects on female reproductive health.