Inflammatory abnormalities are well-documented in individuals with chronic psychotic disorders. Particular attention has focused on interleukin-6 (IL-6) and its correlation with psychotic symptom severity. Cannabis use is associated with an increased risk of psychosis and also has immunomodulating properties. It has been hypothesized that inflammatory disturbances are a common underlying pathology between cannabis use and psychosis. We measured inflammatory markers in individuals admitted to a psychiatric unit with acute psychosis who had toxicology positive for natural and/or synthetic cannabinoids (n = 59) compared to patients with negative cannabinoid toxicology (n = 60). Psychosis severity was assessed using the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS). While PANSS scores were similar between groups, cannabinoid-positive participants were more likely to receive pro re nata (PRN or as-needed) medications for agitation in the psychiatric emergency room, particularly synthetic cannabinoid-positive participants. In unadjusted models, cannabinoid-positive participants had lower interferon-γ (IFN-γ) levels (p = 0.046), but this finding was not significant after adjusting for covariates and multiple comparisons. Among cannabinoid-positive participants, IL-6 levels negatively correlated with PANSS total score (p = 0.040), as well as positive (p = 0.035) and negative (p = 0.024) subscales. Results suggest inflammatory alterations among psychotic individuals with comorbid cannabinoid use.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113380
JournalPsychiatry Research
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • Cannabis
  • IFN-γ
  • IL-6
  • Inflammation
  • Marijuana
  • Schizophrenia
  • Synthetic cannabinoids


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