The relationship between cannabis use and cortisol levels in youth at ultra high-risk for psychosis

Emily E. Carol*, Robert L. Spencer, Vijay A. Mittal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Recent studies have posited a relationship between cannabis use and the biological stress system, but this critical relationship has not been evaluated during the ultra high-risk (UHR) period immediately preceding the onset of psychotic disorders. Salivary cortisol samples were collected on 46 UHR and 29 control adolescents; these individuals were assessed for current cannabis use with a urine panel and self-report. UHR participants where separated into two groups: Current Cannabis Use (UHR-CU) and No Current Cannabis Use (UHR-NC). Healthy Control participants (HC) were free of cannabis use. Consistent with the literature, results indicate UHR individuals showed elevated cortisol levels when compared to HC participants. Further, we also observed that UHR-CU participants exhibited elevated levels when compared to both the non-using UHR and HC groups. Findings suggest that cannabis use may interact with underlying biological vulnerability associated with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-64
Number of pages7
StatePublished - Sep 2017


  • Cannabis
  • Cortisol
  • HPA axis
  • High-Risk
  • Prodrome
  • Schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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