Cannabinol (CBN) is a degradation product of the cannabis metabolite Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol. The CBN concentration in cannabis leaves ranges between 0.1 and 1.6% (w/w of dry weight); it increases as the plant ages and its formation is affected by the storage conditions. As CBN has not been extensively studied so far, the need to examine its impact in vivo is imperative due to the increasing use of cannabis globally. In the study herein, the CBN toxicity, effects on heart physiology, morphological malformations, behavioral changes and alterations in metabolic pathways of zebrafish larvae upon CBN exposure to sublethal concentrations were examined. The LD value was estimated at 1.12 mg/l. At the same time, malformations in zebrafish larvae increased significantly in a dose-dependent manner and exposure to CBN concentrations greater than 0.75 mg/l provoked abnormalities like pericardial edema, yolk sac anomalies and tail bending. Concentrations above this threshold resulted in elongated and shorter in width hearts and in separation of ventricle from atrium. The total movement distance and velocity were increased in dark and decreased in light conditions, in a concentration-dependent manner. Our results showed that CBN acts both as a stimulant and a sedative, with larvae to exhibit altered velocity and bradycardia, respectively. The metabolomic analysis revealed alterations mainly to amino acids, which are related to acute toxicity and hint towards systemic metabolic and neuropathophysiological changes. Taken together, our data indicate increased toxic effects as CBN exposure concentration increases, which should be taken into consideration when studying the impact of cannabis on organisms.
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