Objective: Cannabis sativa is the most used recreational drug worldwide. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in the potential therapeutic benefits of medicinal cannabis to treat a variety of psychiatric and neurological conditions. In particular, cannabidiol (CBD), a nonpsychoactive cannabis constituent, has been investigated for its potential prosocial effects on behavior, although the molecular mechanisms underlying this effect are still largely unknown. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of a C. sativa oil CBD rich (CS oil) on social interaction and ultrasonic communication in mice.

Study Design: Twenty-seven adult male mice (B6; 129P F2) were treated daily with vehicle or CS oil for 2 weeks. At Day 14, mice were tested for behavior (social interaction test and ultrasonic communication). Forty minutes before the behavioral tests, mice were exposed to intranasal treatment with vehicle or the oxytocin receptor antagonist, L-371,257. After behavioral tests, VH- and CS oil-treated mice were sacrificed, RNA was extracted from the hypothalamus and used for quantitative Real Time-PCR experiments.

Results: We found that a 2-week treatment with the CS oil on mice exerted a prosocial effect associated with an increase in ultrasonic vocalizations. These effects were inhibited by pretreating mice with an oxytocin receptor antagonist. In addition, at the molecular level, we found that CS oil treatment caused a significant increase in oxytocin and a decrease in oxytocin receptor expression levels in the brain hypothalamus.

Conclusion: Our results suggest that CS oil promotes social behavior by acting on oxytocin pathway.