Chronic marijuana use moderates the correlations of serum cholesterol with systemic mitochondrial function and fluid cognition
Reverse cholesterol transport (RCT) is a crucial biological process, in which excess cholesterol from peripheral tissues are transported back to the liver for subsequent removal from the body. A recent clinical study has demonstrated the complicated and profound effects of marijuana use on this process.
Marijuana users tend to consume less plant-based food, which leads to a lower level of dietary polyphenols, chemicals that help with the transfer of cholesterols from peripheral tissues to high-density lipoprotein to liver. They also tend to consume more meat-based food, which leads to a high level of dietary fat content. The ultimate result is a higher cholesterol deposit in tissues of marijuana users. This, in turn, causes an abnormally high cholesterol density in the mitochondrial membrane, interfering with the functions of mitochondria – the powerhouse of the cell.
Thus, among marijuana users, proper RCT function plays a significant role in mitochondrial function and hence, in maintaining cognitive function. Alarmingly, however, higher daily and life-time marijuana use correlates with a decrease in RCT activity. This is because marijuana contains tetrahydrocannabinol, an activator of the type 1 cannabinoid receptor and activation of this receptor inhibits RCT activity.