The Cannabis-Induced Potential Heritability of Epigenetic Revision in Sperm (CIPHERS) project follows a pilot project funded by the John Templeton Foundation in which the objective was to determine if use of Cannabis in humans and THC exposure in rats is associated with changes in the DNA methylation profile of sperm.
The pilot project found that indeed, there are substantial changes in sperm methylation, intriguingly involving many genes with developmental and neurological function. However, we do not yet have a grasp on the extent of those changes throughout the sperm epigenome and whether or not this is manifested in individual sperm while other sperm in the same semen sample exhibit a normal pattern of methylation, or if the methylation changes are more randomly distributed across all the sperm in a semen sample.
CIPHERS will conduct a more thorough investigation to better understand the effects of Cannabis on sperm and to determine if interventions can reverse these profiles. The project will also investigate if the epigenetic changes are transmissible to the next generation and beyond, and herein propose to examine this in human participants and in a rodent study .