In vivo metabolism of (+)-trans-delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol in the mouse.

Research paper by D J DJ Harvey

Indexed on: 15 Jan '88Published on: 15 Jan '88Published in: Biomedical & environmental mass spectrometry


(+)-trans-Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol [(+)-delta-9-THC], a biologically inactive isomer of (-)-trans-delta-9-THC, the major psychoactive constituent of cannabis, was administered intraperitoneally to male Charles River CD-1 mice; hepatic metabolites were extracted with ethyl acetate and isolated by chromatography on Sephadex LH-20 in chloroform. The metabolites were converted into trimethylsilyl (TMS), 2H9-TMS and methyl ester/TMS derivatives for examination by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry and additional samples were prepared by reduction of metabolic fractions with lithium aluminium deuteride. Sixteen metabolites were characterized: these were alcohols and carboxylic acids, together with several of their hydroxylated analogues. The major biotransformation pathway was hydroxylation at C(11) to give the major metabolite, followed by oxidation of this compound to a carboxylic acid. Hydroxylated analogues of these two compounds were substituted mainly in the side-chain. Although metabolism was very similar to that of the naturally occurring (-)-isomer as far as positions of substitution were concerned, some differences were observed. These related mainly to the positions of hydroxylation on the side-chain, where 1'-hydroxylation was preferred to hydroxylation at the 2'-position. The major difference in metabolism between the two isomers was that much less oxidation of the 11-hydroxy group to a carboxylic acid occurred and there was less hydroxylation at the 8-position. Thus, 11-hydroxy-(+)-trans-delta-9-THC was the major metabolite and most other metabolites were hydroxylated derivatives of this compound.