Liprin alfa 2 gene expression is increased by cannabis use and associated with neuropsychological function

Yujie He, Lot D. de Witte, Chris D. Schubart, Willemijn A. Van Gastel, Bobby P.C. Koeleman, Simone de Jong, Roel A. Ophoff, Elly M. Hol, Marco P. Boks*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The relation of heavy cannabis use with decreased neuropsychological function has frequently been described but the underlying biological mechanisms are still largely unknown. This study investigates the relation of cannabis use with genome wide gene expression and subsequently examines the relations with neuropsychological function. Genome-wide gene expression in whole blood was compared between heavy cannabis users (N = 90) and cannabis naïve participants (N = 100) that were matched for psychotic like experiences. The results were validated using quantitative real-time PCR. Psychotic like experiences were assessed using the Comprehensive Assessment of Psychotic Experiences (CAPE). Neuropsychological function was estimated using four subtasks of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS). Subsequent in vitro studies in monocytes and a neuroblastoma cell line investigated expression changes in response to two major psychotropic components of cannabis; tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). mRNA expression of Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase Receptor Type F Polypeptide-Interacting-Protein Alpha-2 (PPFIA2) was significantly higher in cannabis users (LogFold Change 0.17) and confirmed by qPCR analysis. PPFIA2 expression level was negatively correlated with estimated intelligence (B=−22.9, p = 0.002) also in the 100 non-users (B=−28.5, p = 0.037). In vitro exposure of monocytes to CBD led to significant increase in PPFIA2 expression. However, exposure of monocytes to THC and neuroblastoma cells to THC or CBD did not change PPFIA2 expression. Change in PPFIA2 gene expression in response to cannabinoids is a putative mechanism by which cannabis could influence neuropsychological functions. The findings warrant further exploration of the role of PPFIA2 in cannabis induced changes of neuropsychological function, particularly in relation to CBD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)643-652
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Neuropsychopharmacology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • Cannabis
  • CBD
  • Cognition
  • Gene expression
  • PPFIA2
  • THC


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