In chronic cannabis users, reverse cholesterol transport function is particularly important for maintaining general and cognitive health
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.