Cannabinoids and Their Receptors in Skin Diseases

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“The therapeutic application of cannabinoids has gained traction in recent years. Cannabinoids interact with the human endocannabinoid system in the skin. A large body of research indicates that cannabinoids could hold promise for the treatment of eczema, psoriasis, acne, pruritus, hair disorders, and skin cancer. However, most of the available data are at the preclinical stage. Comprehensive, large-scale, randomized, controlled clinical trials have not yet been fully conducted. In this article, we describe new findings in cannabinoid research and point out promising future research areas.”

“In recent years, some components of cannabis, also known as marijuana, have been studied. Cannabis has been used for various purposes throughout history, including recreational, medicinal, and industrial uses. In recent years, cannabinoid components are emerging as therapeutic alternatives for patients with a variety of illnesses and conditions. In particular, their anti-inflammatory properties have piqued the interest of dermatologists [1]. Given the growing number of pre-clinical and clinical studies exploring the potential of cannabinoids to treat dermatologic conditions, we here summarize reports of cannabinoid use in dermatologic therapy.”

Analgesic and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of 1% Tropical Cannabidiol Gel in Animal Models

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“Introduction: Cannabidiol (CBD), a phytocannabinoid isolated from cannabis plants, is an interesting candidate for studying its anti-inflammatory effects, especially in the pre-clinical and animal models. Its anti-inflammatory effects, such as reduction of edema and arthritis, have been demonstrated in animal models. However, topical CBD administration requires further evaluation of CBD dosage and efficacy in animal models and clinical settings. 

Methods: This in vivo study investigated the anti-inflammatory effects of topical CBD administration in an animal model. Scientific experiments, including the formalin test, writhing test, carrageenan-induced edema, histopathological examination, and detection of various proinflammatory mediators, were performed. 

Results: The anti-inflammatory effects in vivo after inflammation induction, represented by decreased times of paw licking, degree of paw edema, and decreased writhing response, showed that 1% of tropical CBD use had significantly comparable or better anti-inflammatory effects when compared with tropical diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory agent. Moreover, the anti-inflammatory effects were significant compared with the placebo. In addition, the histopathological examination showed that topical CBD drastically reduced leukocyte infiltration and the degree of inflammation. This study also showed that the levels of various proinflammatory mediators in the plasma of mice treated with topical CBD did not differ from those treated with diclofenac. 

Conclusions: The topical administration of 1% CBD gel is a potentially effective candidate for an anti-inflammatory agent. Candidate for an anti-inflammatory agent.”

Therapeutic Potential of Minor Cannabinoids in Dermatological Diseases-A Synthetic Review

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“Dermatological diseases pose a significant burden on the quality of life of individuals and can be challenging to treat effectively. In this aspect, cannabinoids are gaining increasing importance due to their therapeutic potential in various disease entities including skin diseases. In this synthetic review, we comprehensively analyzed the existing literature in the field of potential dermatological applications of a lesser-known subgroup of cannabinoids, the so-called minor cannabinoids, such as cannabidivarin (CBDV), cannabidiforol (CBDP), cannabichromene (CBC), tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), cannabigerol (CBG), cannabielsoin (CBE), cannabimovone (CBM) or cannabinol (CBN), while drawing attention to their unique pharmacological properties. We systematically searched the available databases for relevant studies and analyzed the data to provide an overview of current thematic knowledge. We looked through the full-text, bibliographic and factographic databases, especially Scopus, Web of Science, PubMed, Polish Scientific Journals Database, and selected the most relevant papers. Our review highlights that minor cannabinoids exhibit diverse pharmacological activities, including anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antimicrobial, and anti-itch properties. Several studies have reported their efficacy in mitigating symptoms associated with dermatological diseases such as psoriasis, eczema, acne, and pruritus. Furthermore, minor cannabinoids have shown potential in regulating sebum production, a crucial factor in acne pathogenesis. The findings of this review suggest that minor cannabinoids hold therapeutic promise in the management of dermatological diseases. Further preclinical and clinical investigations are warranted to elucidate their mechanisms of action, determine optimal dosage regimens, and assess long-term safety profiles. Incorporating minor cannabinoids into dermatological therapies could potentially offer novel treatment options of patients and improve their overall well-being.”

Cannabidiol and Cannabigerol Modify the Composition and Physicochemical Properties of Keratinocyte Membranes Exposed to UVA

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“The action of UVA radiation (both that derived from solar radiation and that used in the treatment of skin diseases) modifies the function and composition of keratinocyte membranes. Therefore, this study aimed to assess the effects of phytocannabinoids (CBD and CBG), used singly and in combination, on the contents of phospholipids, ceramides, lipid rafts and sialic acid in keratinocyte membranes exposed to UVA radiation, together with their structure and functionality. The phytocannabinoids, especially in combination (CBD+CBG), partially prevented increased levels of phosphatidylinositols and sialic acid from occurring and sphingomyelinase activity after the UVA exposure of keratinocytes. This was accompanied by a reduction in the formation of lipid rafts and malondialdehyde, which correlated with the parameters responsible for the integrity and functionality of the keratinocyte membrane (membrane fluidity and permeability and the activity of transmembrane transporters), compared to UVA-irradiated cells. This suggests that the simultaneous use of two phytocannabinoids may have a protective effect on healthy cells, without significantly reducing the therapeutic effect of UV radiation used to treat skin diseases such as psoriasis.”

“Since UVA radiation modifies the composition, structure and functionality of the lipid bilayer of keratinocyte membranes, the use of natural compounds, especially lipophilic compounds such as phytocannabinoids, is important for maintaining the proper condition of the skin and, consequently, for the proper functioning of the skin over the entire human body. “

Rare Phytocannabinoids Exert Anti-Inflammatory Effects on Human Keratinocytes via the Endocannabinoid System and MAPK Signaling Pathway


“Increasing evidence supports the therapeutic potential of rare cannabis-derived phytocannabinoids (pCBs) in skin disorders such as atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, pruritus, and acne. However, the molecular mechanisms of the biological action of these pCBs remain poorly investigated.

In this study, an experimental model of inflamed human keratinocytes (HaCaT cells) was set up by using lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in order to investigate the anti-inflammatory effects of the rare pCBs cannabigerol (CBG), cannabichromene (CBC), Δ9-tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) and cannabigerolic acid (CBGA). To this aim, pro-inflammatory interleukins (IL)-1β, IL-8, IL-12, IL-31, tumor necrosis factor (TNF-β) and anti-inflammatory IL-10 levels were measured through ELISA quantification. In addition, IL-12 and IL-31 levels were measured after treatment of HaCaT cells with THCV and CBGA in the presence of selected modulators of endocannabinoid (eCB) signaling. In the latter cells, the activation of 17 distinct proteins along the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway was also investigated via Human Phosphorylation Array.

Our results demonstrate that rare pCBs significantly blocked inflammation by reducing the release of all pro-inflammatory ILs tested, except for TNF-β. Moreover, the reduction of IL-31 expression by THCV and CBGA was significantly reverted by blocking the eCB-binding TRPV1 receptor and by inhibiting the eCB-hydrolase MAGL. Remarkably, THCV and CBGA modulated the expression of the phosphorylated forms (and hence of the activity) of the MAPK-related proteins GSK3β, MEK1, MKK6 and CREB also by engaging eCB hydrolases MAGL and FAAH.

Taken together, the ability of rare pCBs to exert an anti-inflammatory effect in human keratinocytes through modifications of eCB and MAPK signaling opens new perspectives for the treatment of inflammation-related skin pathologies.”

“Overall, this proof of concept, which shows that in inflamed human keratinocytes, rare pCBs can indeed interact with specific eCB system elements, opens new perspectives for possible treatments of inflammation-related skin diseases. Incidentally, such interactions between pCBs and eCB system seems to hold therapeutic potential well beyond the skin, such as possible treatments reported for autism spectrum disorders and cancer”

“Effects of Rare Phytocannabinoids on the Endocannabinoid System of Human Keratinocytes”

Cannabidiol and Cannabigerol Exert Antimicrobial Activity without Compromising Skin Microbiota


“Cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabigerol (CBG) are two pharmacologically active phytocannabinoids of Cannabis sativa L. Their antimicrobial activity needs further elucidation, particularly for CBG, as reports on this cannabinoid are scarce. We investigated CBD and CBG’s antimicrobial potential, including their ability to inhibit the formation and cause the removal of biofilms.

Our results demonstrate that both molecules present activity against planktonic bacteria and biofilms, with both cannabinoids removing mature biofilms at concentrations below the determined minimum inhibitory concentrations. We report for the first time minimum inhibitory and lethal concentrations for Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Escherichia coli (ranging from 400 to 3180 µM), as well as the ability of cannabinoids to inhibit Staphylococci adhesion to keratinocytes, with CBG demonstrating higher activity than CBD. The value of these molecules as preservative ingredients for cosmetics was also assayed, with CBG meeting the USP 51 challenge test criteria for antimicrobial effectiveness. Further, the exact formulation showed no negative impact on skin microbiota.

Our results suggest that phytocannabinoids can be promising topical antimicrobial agents when searching for novel therapeutic candidates for different skin conditions. Additional research is needed to clarify phytocannabinoids’ mechanisms of action, aiming to develop practical applications in dermatological use.”

“This report compares CBD and CBG’s antimicrobial effectiveness and further cements phytocannabinoids’ potential to be used as antimicrobial agents. Both molecules’ antimicrobial capacity strongly depends on the target microorganism, namely whether it is Gram-negative or Gram-positive. Nonetheless, we were able to determine MICs for all tested strains, including S. pyogenesE. coli, and P. aeruginosa. It is of note that CBG revealed a stronger antimicrobial effect than CBD, particularly in the challenge test and in the antibiofilm assay. Further studies are needed to understand these discrepancies, as they may be connected to structural differences, receptor-binding affinity, or another mechanism other than a receptor-mediated one. Since no significant impact on the skin microbiota was observed and given its current widespread use, both CBD and CBG might be considered safe. Thus, we can assume that the development of topical formulations with active concentrations of CBG and/or CBD might represent a promising approach to tackle skin conditions where microorganisms and inflammation play a fundamental role, including psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and acne.”

Cannabidiol mediates epidermal terminal differentiation and redox homeostasis through aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR)-dependent signaling

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“Background: Cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid, has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity in keratinocytes. However, the signaling pathway through which cannabidiol exerts its effect on keratinocytes or whether it can modulate keratinocyte differentiation has not been fully elucidated yet.

Objective: We investigated whether cannabidiol modulates epidermal differentiation and scavenges reactive oxygen species through the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) in keratinocytes and epidermal equivalents.

Methods: We investigated the cannabidiol-induced activation of AhR using AhR luciferase reporter assay, qRT-PCR, western blot, and immunofluorescence assays. We also analyzed whether keratinocyte differentiation and antioxidant activity are regulated by cannabidiol-induced AhR activation.

Results: In both keratinocytes and epidermal equivalents, cannabidiol increased both the mRNA and protein expression of filaggrin, involucrin, NRF2, and NQO1 and the mRNA expression of the AhR target genes, including CYP1A1 and aryl hydrocarbon receptor repressor. Additionally, cannabidiol showed antioxidant activity that was attenuated by AhR knockdown or co-administration with an AhR antagonist. Moreover, cannabidiol increased the ratio of OVOL1/OVOL2 mRNA expression, which is a downstream regulator of AhR that mediates epidermal differentiation. In addition to increased expression of barrier-related proteins, cannabidiol-treated epidermal equivalent showed a more prominent granular layer than the control epidermis. The increased granular layer by cannabidiol was suppressed by the AhR antagonist.

Conclusion: Cannabidiol can be a modulator of the AhR-OVOL1-filaggrin axis and AhR-NRF2-NQO1 signaling, thus indicating a potential use of cannabidiol in skin barrier enhancement and reducing oxidative stress.”

Cannabinoid Compounds as a Pharmacotherapeutic Option for the Treatment of Non-Cancer Skin Diseases


“The endocannabinoid system has been shown to be involved in various skin functions, such as melanogenesis and the maintenance of redox balance in skin cells exposed to UV radiation, as well as barrier functions, sebaceous gland activity, wound healing and the skin’s immune response.

In addition to the potential use of cannabinoids in the treatment and prevention of skin cancer, cannabinoid compounds and derivatives are of interest as potential systemic and topical applications for the treatment of various inflammatory, fibrotic and pruritic skin conditions. In this context, cannabinoid compounds have been successfully tested as a therapeutic option for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia, atopic and seborrhoeic dermatitis, dermatomyositis, asteatotic and atopic eczema, uraemic pruritis, scalp psoriasis, systemic sclerosis and venous leg ulcers. This review provides an insight into the current literature on cannabinoid compounds as potential medicines for the treatment of skin diseases.”

“Based on the current publications, it can be summarised that cannabinoid compounds have great potential in the treatment of skin diseases, both as topical applications and as systemic medications.”

The Modulation of Blue-Light-Induced Inflammation, Intracellular Lipid Secretion, and Oxidative Stress in Sebocytes with Cannabidiol

“Light-induced skin damage leads to cellular or molecular dysfunction, thus potentially causing different skin issues (e.g., skin aging, seborrheic dermatitis and pigmentation). Blue light, a potent visible light that was previously adopted for promoting skin regeneration, draws considerable concerns in the past several years due to their potential damage to the skins. In this work, we investigated the roles of blue light in skewing the functions of sebocytes – the major cells that compose the sebaceous gland – an important “active” neuro-immuno-endocrine organ in maintaining skin functions.

For therapeutically purposes, we employed cannabidiol (CBD), a clinically used non-psychotropic phytocannabinoid, to revert blue-light-induced sebocytes dysfunctions, including intracellular lipid secretion, inflammation, reactive oxygen species (ROS) secretion, and cell cycles. At the cellular level, CBD reduced the blue-light-enhanced intracellular lipid secretion, decreased inflammation, down-regulated intracellular ROS production, and restored the skewed cell cycles in the sebocytes. In the intracellular mechanism, CBD inhibited the blue-light-induced pro-apoptotic activity through rebalance BCL-2/BAX expression and down-regulated the NF-κB p65 pathway.

Collectively, this study demonstrated that CBD was a potent therapeutic agent for maintaining normal sebocytes functions, thus is a promising drug for skincare purposes, especially considering its effectiveness in restoring the twisted sebocytes behaviors.”

Medical cannabis dimethyl ether, ethanol and butane extracts inhibit the in vitro growth of bacteria and dermatophytes causing common skin diseases

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“Cannabis preparations are gaining popularity among patients with various skin diseases. Due to the lack of scientific evidence, dermatologists remain cautious about their prescriptions. So far, only a few studies have been published about the effects of high-potency cannabis extracts on microorganisms (especially dermatophytes) causing skin problems that affect more than 25% of the worldwide population. Even though, the high-potency cannabis extracts prepared by cold extraction are mostly composed of non-psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) and only low amount of THC, their use in topical treatment can be stigmatized. The in vitro antimicrobial and antifungal activity of two high potent cannabis strains extracted by three solvents traditionally or currently used by cannabis users (ethanol; EtOH, butane; BUT, dimethyl ether; DME) was investigated by broth dilution method. The chemical profile of cannabis was determined by high-performance liquid chromatography with ultraviolet detection and gas chromatography with mass spectrometer and flame ionization detector. The extraction methods significantly influenced chemical profile of extracts. The yield of EtOH extracts contained less cannabinoids and terpenes compared to BUT and DME ones. Most of the extracts was predominantly (>60%) composed of various cannabinoids, especially THCA. All of them demonstrated activity against 18 of the 19 microorganisms tested. The minimal inhibitory concentrations (MICs) of the extracts ranged from 4 to 256 μg/mL. In general, the bacteria were more susceptible to the extracts than dermatophytes. Due to the lower content of biologically active substances, the EtOH extracts were less effective against microorganisms. Cannabis extracts may be of value to treat dermatophytosis and other skin diseases caused by various microorganisms. Therefore, they could serve as an alternative or supportive treatment to commonly used antibiotics.”

“Our research brought new evidence that cannabis extracts may be of value to treat dermatophytosis and other skin diseases caused by various microorganisms and showed that cannabis could serve as an alternative or supportive treatment to commonly used antibiotics.”