Tuesday, November 06, 2007


When I was in Japan recently I had the chance to try sea urchin sushi, which were delicious if you don't mind the texture. I hadn't eaten sea urchin since being a kid, when we used to collect them from the local beach in Spain and eat them fresh out of the sea with a dash of lemon. Now I was amused to find out in this article that sea urchin ovaries (the part you eat), has non trivial amounts of anandamide. Anandamide, which is derived from the word bliss in Sanskrit, is the endogenous canabinoid our body secretes. This may explain why some biologists waste their time with invertebrate zoology. More interestingly, the company described in the articles is trying to develop a THC - anadamide hybrid mollecule that would be even more potent against pain.

When thinking about it a little more it didn't surprise me that reproductive organs would contain the ligand, since they are known to express the receptors:

"With respect to reproductive organs, cannabinoid receptors and/or endocannabinoids have been detected in the pituitary gland, testis, Leydig cells, epididymis, prostate, sperm cells, ovary, uterus, oviduct, preimplantation embryo, placenta, embryo, fetus and neonates"

It is thought that in sperm, the anandamide prevents the acrosome reaction, therefore preventing the sperm from activating before it reaches the female tract and also preventing polyspermy during fertilization. The question is, how much anadamide (AEA) is there in reproductive biological fluids?

"We detected AEA, OEA, and PEA in human seminal plasma, mid-cycle oviductal fluid, and follicular fluid analyzed by HPLC/MS"

And the sequela, how much of that stuff do you need to feel a buzz?

"Oral administration of AEA and 2-AG to mice can produce psychotropic effects, suggesting that these endocannabinoids reach the brain ( Di Marzo et al., 1998)."

A quick survey of the literature suggest that 5.8mg/kg is the ED50 of AEA to impair working memory performance (i.e. get a mouse high). So a rough approximation of the dose of milk for an infant to feel the effects is 20,209 L of milk, or for a woman to get high of seminal fluid she would need to chug a good 62,142 L. Notice that calculating the converse would be morally reprehensible.

I suppose the fact that it's so dilute is a good thing for the baby since: "Newborn humans, that had been exposed to marijuana prenatally, exhibit increased tremors, exaggerated responses to stimulation, and spend less time sleeping quietly ( Fried and Smith, 2001).".... but it fails to explain why babies have such munchies...


Kevin Z said...

Ahem, I resemble that comment...

Your just jealous because you didn't think of first. You probably like "Oh I'm going to study cancer so i can make money and have a job security". That stuff is for wussies.

Anonymous Coward said...

I think If I had your job, I would end up eating all the specimens... invertebrates are tasty!

Kevin Z said...

And so good for you too!