Cannabinoids as Immune System Modulators: Cannabidiol Potential Therapeutic Approaches and Limitations

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“Introduction: Cannabidiol (CBD) is the second most abundant Phytocannabinoid in Cannabis extracts. CBD has a binding affinity for several cannabinoid and cannabinoid-associated receptors. Epidiolex (oral CBD solution) has been lately licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of pediatric epileptic seizures. 

Methods: In this review, we discussed the most promising applications of CBD for chronic inflammatory conditions, namely CBD’s anti-inflammatory effects during inflammatory bowel disease, coronavirus disease (antiviral effect), brain pathologies (neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties), as well as CBD immunomodulatory and antitumoral activities in the tumor microenvironment. Special focus was shed on the main therapeutic mechanisms of action of CBD, particularly in the control of the immune system and the endocannabinoid system. 

Results: Findings suggest that CBD is a potent immunomodulatory drug as it has manifested immunosuppressive properties in the context of sterile inflammation (e.g., inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and neurodegenerative diseases), and immunoprotective effects during viral infections (e.g. COVID-19) Similarly, CBD has exhibited a selective response toward cancer types by engaging different targets and signaling pathways. These results are in favor of the primary function of the endocannabinoid system which is homeostatic maintenance. 

Conclusion: The presented evidence suggests that the endocannabinoid system is a prominent target for the treatment of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, rheumatoid diseases, viral infections, neurological and psychological pathologies, and cancer. Moreover, the antitumoral activities of CBD have been suggested to be potentially used in combination with chemo- or immunotherapy during cancer. However, clinical results are still lacking, which raises a challenge to apply translational cannabis research to the human immune system.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36413346/

https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/can.2022.0133

A Systemic Review of Medical Cannabinoids Dosing in Human

“Purpose: This systemic review assesses currently available clinical information on which cannabinoids and what range of doses have been used to achieve positive effects in a diversity of medical context.

Methods: The data were collected according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses protocol guidelines. Inclusion criteria were articles that assessed administration of any cannabinoid to any clinical population, reported in the ClinicalTrials.gov or PubMed databases, that involved a comparison with other treatment or placebo and a result measurement to assess the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the cannabinoid. Exclusion criteria were review or letter; articles not in the English language; not full-text articles; not a clinical trial, case report, case series, open-label trial, or pilot study; administration in animals, in vitro, or in healthy participants; cannabinoids administered in combination with other cannabinoids (except for cannabidiol [CBD] or tetrahydrocannabinol [THC]) or as whole cannabis extracts; no stated concentration; inhalation or smoke as a route of administration; and no results described. The articles were assessed by the risk of bias.

Finding: In total, 1668 articles were recovered, of which 55 studies met the inclusion criteria for 21 diseases. Positive effects were reported in clinical studies: 52% with THC (range, 0.01-0.5 mg/kg/d [0.62-31 mg/d]), 74% with CBD (range, 1-50 mg/kg/d [62-3100 mg/d]), 64% with THC-CBD (mean, 1:1.3 mg/kg/d [ratio, 1:1]), and 100% with tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) (0.2 mg/kg/d).

Implications: THC, CBD, and THCV can regulate activity in several pathologies. New studies of cannabinoids are highly encouraged because each patient is unique and requires a unique cannabinoid medication.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36411116/

https://www.clinicaltherapeutics.com/article/S0149-2918(22)00349-6/fulltext

Potential Utility of Cannabidiol in Stress-Related Disorders

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“Background: The endocannabinoid (eCB) system plays an important role in homeostatic regulation of anxiety and stress responses; however, the eCB system can be disrupted following traumatic stressors. Additionally, traumatic or chronic stressors that occur during adulthood or early life can cause long-lasting disturbances in the eCB system. These alterations interfere with hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function and may be involved in lifelong increased fear and anxiety behaviors as well as increased risk for development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

Methods: This review focuses on the implications of trauma and significant stressors on eCB functionality and neural pathways, both in adolescence and into adulthood, as well as the current state of testing for CBD efficacy in treating pediatric and adult patients suffering from stress-induced eCB dysregulation. Articles were searched via Pubmed and included studies examining eCB modulation of stress-related disorders in both clinical settings and preclinical models. 

Conclusion: Given the potential for lifelong alterations in eCB signaling that can mediate stress responsiveness, consideration of pharmaceutical or nutraceutical agents that impact eCB targets may improve clinical outcomes in stress-related disorders. However, caution may be warranted in utilization of medicinal cannabinoid products that contain delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol due to pronounced euphorigenic effects and potential to exacerbate stress-related behaviors. Other cannabinoid products, such as cannabidiol (CBD), have shown promise in reducing stress-related behaviors in pre-clinical models. Overall, pre-clinical evidence supports CBD as a potential treatment for stress or anxiety disorders resulting from previously stressful events, particularly by reducing fearful behavior and promoting extinction of contextual fear memories, which are hallmarks of PTSD. However, very limited clinical research has been conducted examining the potential effectiveness of CBD in this regard and should be examined further.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36409719/

https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/can.2022.0130

Use of cannabidiol in the treatment of epilepsy: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, Dravet syndrome, and tuberous sclerosis complex

“Objective: The objective of this systematic review with meta-analysis was to evaluate the efficacy, safety, and short- and long-term tolerability of cannabidiol (CBD), as an adjunct treatment, in children and adults with Dravet syndrome (SD), Lennox-Gataut syndrome (LGS), or tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC), with inadequate control of seizures.

Methods: This systematic review was conducted through a search for scientific evidence in the Mediline/PubMed, Central Cochrane, and ClinicalTrials.gov databases until April 2022. Selected randomized clinical trials (RCTs) that presented the outcomes: reduction in the frequency of seizures and total seizures (all types), number of patients with a response greater than or equal to 50%, change in caregiver global impression of change (CGIC) (improvement ≥1 category on the initial scale), adverse events (AEs), and tolerability to treatment. This review followed Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses.

Results: Notably, six RCTs were included, with a total of 1,034 patients with SD, LGS, and TSC, of which 3 were open-label extension RCTs. The meta-analysis of the studies showed that the use of CBD as compared with placebo, in patients with convulsive seizures refractory to the use of medications, reduces the frequency of seizures by 33%; increases the number of patients with a reduction ≥50% in the frequency of seizures by 20%; increases the number of patients with absence of seizures by 3%; improves the clinical impression evaluated by the caregiver or patient (S/CGIC) in 21%; increases total AEs by 12%; increases serious AE by 16%; increases the risk of treatment abandonment by 12%; and increases the number of patients with transaminase elevation (≥3 times the referral) by 15%.

Conclusions: This systematic review, with meta-analysis, supports the use of CBD in the treatment of patients with seizures, originated in DS, LGS, and TSC, who are resistant to the common medications, presenting satisfactory benefits in reducing seizures and tolerable toxicity.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36417631/

https://www.scielo.br/j/ramb/a/vh3QpdBkQfXVrdw7nT63bdd/?lang=en

Regulation of DNA Methylation by Cannabidiol and Its Implications for Psychiatry: New Insights from In Vivo and In Silico Models

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“Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychotomimetic compound present in cannabis sativa. Many recent studies have indicated that CBD has a promising therapeutic profile for stress-related psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety, schizophrenia and depression. Such a diverse profile has been associated with its complex pharmacology, since CBD can target different neurotransmitter receptors, enzymes, transporters and ion channels. However, the precise contribution of each of those mechanisms for CBD effects is still not yet completely understood. Considering that epigenetic changes make the bridge between gene expression and environment interactions, we review and discuss herein how CBD affects one of the main epigenetic mechanisms associated with the development of stress-related psychiatric disorders: DNA methylation (DNAm). Evidence from in vivo and in silico studies indicate that CBD can regulate the activity of the enzymes responsible for DNAm, due to directly binding to the enzymes and/or by indirectly regulating their activities as a consequence of neurotransmitter-mediated signaling. The implications of this new potential pharmacological target for CBD are discussed in light of its therapeutic and neurodevelopmental effects.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36421839/

https://www.mdpi.com/2073-4425/13/11/2165

A randomized, controlled trial of ZYN002 cannabidiol transdermal gel in children and adolescents with fragile X syndrome (CONNECT-FX)

“Background: Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is associated with dysregulated endocannabinoid signaling and may therefore respond to cannabidiol therapy.

Design: CONNECT-FX was a double-blind, randomized phase 3 trial assessing efficacy and safety of ZYN002, transdermal cannabidiol gel, for the treatment of behavioral symptoms in children and adolescents with FXS.

Methods: Patients were randomized to 12 weeks of ZYN002 (250 mg or 500 mg daily [weight-based]) or placebo, as add-on to standard of care. The primary endpoint assessed change in social avoidance (SA) measured by the Aberrant Behavior Checklist-Community Edition FXS (ABC-CFXS) SA subscale in a full cohort of patients with a FXS full mutation, regardless of the FMR1 methylation status. Ad hoc analyses assessed efficacy in patients with ≥ 90% and 100% methylation of the promoter region of the FMR1 gene, in whom FMR1 gene silencing is most likely.

Results: A total of 212 patients, mean age 9.7 years, 75% males, were enrolled. A total of 169 (79.7%) patients presented with ≥ 90% methylation of the FMR1 promoter and full mutation of FMR1. Although statistical significance for the primary endpoint was not achieved in the full cohort, significant improvement was demonstrated in patients with ≥ 90% methylation of FMR1 (nominal P = 0.020). This group also achieved statistically significant improvements in Caregiver Global Impression-Change in SA and isolation, irritable and disruptive behaviors, and social interactions (nominal P-values: P = 0.038, P = 0.028, and P = 0.002). Similar results were seen in patients with 100% methylation of FMR1. ZYN002 was safe and well tolerated. All treatment-emergent adverse events (TEAEs) were mild or moderate. The most common treatment-related TEAE was application site pain (ZYN002: 6.4%; placebo: 1.0%).

Conclusions: In CONNECT-FX, ZYN002 was well tolerated in patients with FXS and demonstrated evidence of efficacy with a favorable benefit risk relationship in patients with ≥ 90% methylation of the FMR1 gene, in whom gene silencing is most likely, and the impact of FXS is typically most severe.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36434514/

https://jneurodevdisorders.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s11689-022-09466-6

Industrial Hemp ( Cannabis sativa L.) Inflorescences as Novel Food: The Effect of Different Agronomical Practices on Chemical Profile

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“In this study, the effect of several agronomical practices on the chemical composition of hemp inflorescences, a potential novel food that needs to be further studied, was observed. Here, the case study of inflorescences from Ferimon cultivars is discussed and submitted to different agronomical practices (irrigation and fertilizers) in different years, and the inflorescences harvested in different periods were analyzed by a multimethodological approach. Targeted and untargeted methodologies allowed cannabinoids, total phenolic content, metabolite profile and antioxidant activity to be determined. The biomass and inflorescence yields were also reported. The whole data set was submitted to ANOVA-simultaneous component analysis. The statistic results allowed us to observe that irrigation was responsible for the (-)-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) increment. THC, cannabichromene (CBC), cannabigerol (CBG), succinate, and fructose resulted as higher in full female flowering than in the period of seed maturity. On the other hand, nitrogen supplementation led to an increase of iso-leucine, valine, and threonine. The obtained results underlined both the potential food application of hemp inflorescences, due to the rich chemical profile, and the strong effect of agronomical practices, mainly irrigation and harvesting, on the qualitative and quantitative characteristics of its metabolite profile.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36429250/

https://www.mdpi.com/2304-8158/11/22/3658

Alleviation of opioid withdrawal by cannabis and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol: A systematic review of observational and experimental human studies

Drug and Alcohol Dependence

“Background: While six U.S. states have already officially authorized cannabinoids to substitute opioids and treat opioid use disorder, the therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids remain unclear, especially when weighted against their adverse effects.

Methods: We conducted a systematic review of studies examining the association between opioid withdrawal and cannabis use or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) administration. We searched multiple databases from inception to July 30, 2022, and assessed study quality.

Results: Eleven studies were identified, with a total of 5330 participants, of whom 64 % were male. Nine observational studies examined the association between cannabis use and opioid withdrawal. Two randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials (RCTs) investigated the withdrawal-alleviating effects of dronabinol, a synthetic form of THC. Four observational studies found an association between cannabis use and the alleviation of opioid withdrawal; one reported exacerbation of opioid withdrawal symptoms; and four reported no association. RCTs reported that THC alleviated opioid withdrawal, albeit with dose-dependent increases in measures of abuse liability, dysphoria, and tachycardia. There was high heterogeneity in measurements of opioid withdrawal and the type and dose of opioid at baseline.

Conclusions: Although there is preliminary evidence that cannabis and its main psychoactive constituent, THC, may alleviate opioid withdrawal, these effects are likely to have a narrow therapeutic window. Further, the potential of cannabinoids to alleviate opioid withdrawal is determined by complex interactions between patient characteristics and pharmacological factors. Collectively, these findings have clinical, methodological, and mechanistic implications for treating opioid withdrawal during cannabinoid use, and for efforts to alleviate opioid withdrawal using non-opioid therapeutics.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36434879/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0376871622004392?via%3Dihub

Pharmacognosy and Effects of Cannabinoids in the Vascular System

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“Understanding the pharmacodynamics of cannabinoids is an essential subject due to the recent increasing global acceptance of cannabis and its derivation for recreational and therapeutic purposes. Elucidating the interaction between cannabinoids and the vascular system is critical to exploring cannabinoids as a prospective therapeutic agent for treating vascular-associated clinical conditions.

This review aims to examine the effect of cannabinoids on the vascular system and further discuss the fundamental pharmacological properties and mechanisms of action of cannabinoids in the vascular system. Data from literature revealed a substantial interaction between endocannabinoids, phytocannabinoids, and synthetic cannabinoids within the vasculature of both humans and animal models. However, the mechanisms and the ensuing functional response is blood vessels and species-dependent. The current understanding of classical cannabinoid receptor subtypes and the recently discovered atypical cannabinoid receptors and the development of new synthetic analogs have further enhanced the pharmacological characterization of the vascular cannabinoid receptors.

Compelling evidence also suggest that cannabinoids represent a formidable therapeutic candidate for vascular-associated conditions.

Nonetheless, explanations of the mechanisms underlining these processes are complex and paradoxical based on the heterogeneity of receptors and signaling pathways. Further insight from studies that uncover the mechanisms underlining the therapeutic effect of cannabinoids in the treatment of vascular-associated conditions is required to determine whether the known benefits of cannabinoids thus currently outweigh the known/unknown risks.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36407955/

https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acsptsci.2c00141

Cannabidiol in refractory status epilepticus: A review of clinical experiences

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“Objective: To summarize and evaluate clinical experiences with refractory status epilepticus in which cannabidiol (CBD) was utilized for cessation of seizure activity.

Methods: A comprehensive literature review was performed on PubMED, MEDLINE, Scopus, and CINAHL between May – June 2022 with the assistance of a medical reference librarian using the following search terms: “Cannabidiol” [MAJR], “Status Epilepticus” [MAJR], “New-Onset Refractory Status Epilepticus”, and “cannabidiol.” Reports that provided dosing regimens and patient outcomes were included.

Results: Thirty-two articles were screened. Five articles were selected for inclusion in this review and detailed the clinical courses of 11 patients. Five of the 11 patients received CBD during the chronic epilepsy stage, while the remaining 6 received it during a period of acute status epilepticus. Patients were trialed on an average of 9 anti-epileptic drugs prior to CBD administration, after which 9 of the 11 patients experienced a reduction of seizure activity. Dosing of CBD ranged between 5-25 mg/kg/day and was titrated based on patient response to therapy. Adverse effects were relatively benign and were generally limited to gastrointestinal discomfort, reported after seizure cessation.

Conclusions: CBD may provide a potentially efficacious and safe management strategy in refractory status epilepticus, including patients with new-onset refractory status epilepticus and febrile infection-related epilepsy syndrome. A potential for drug-drug interactions between CBD and anti-epileptic drugs warrants judicious monitoring. Additional research is necessary to determine a definitive dosing strategy for this agent.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36399869/

“The efficacy and safety of CBD has been demonstrated in Lennox-Gastaut and Darvet Syndromes.”

https://www.seizure-journal.com/article/S1059-1311(22)00260-6/fulltext