Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

UAB Nephrologists Find Association Between Acute Kidney Injury and Synthetic Marijuana Use

A new study by the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) nephrologists reported for the first time cases that directly linked acute kidney injury with synthetic marijuana use.

Senior author Dr. Denyse Thornley-Brown, associate professor in the UAB Division of Nephrology, and colleagues presented in their report four different cases of previously healthy young men whose acute kidney injury was linked to ingestion of synthetic marijuana. The patients came to UAB or a community hospital showing symptoms of nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain after using synthetic marijuana.

“Cases of acute coronary syndrome associated with synthetic marijuana use have been reported, but our publication is the first to associate use with acute kidney injury,” study co-author Dr. Gaurav Jain, assistant professor in the Division of Nephrology, said in a news release.

Noting that synthetic marijuana preparations involve using several additives, Jain said causative agent of the acute kidney injury in these cases may have been an additive rather than the cannabinoid itself.

“There is very little information regarding the ingredients in synthetic cannabinoids that are sold on the streets, although it is known that additional compounds are added to the preparations,” Jain added.

The researchers recommend doctors to inquire about the use of synthetic marijuana when evaluating patients with acute kidney injury, especially in young adults with negative urine drug screen.

The case studies are reported online in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology and will appear in the March 2013 print edition of the journal.


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