Binge Alcohol Exposure Transiently Changes the Endocannabinoid System: A Potential Target to Prevent Alcohol-Induced Neurodegeneration.


“Excessive alcohol consumption leads to neurodegeneration, which contributes to cognitive decline that is associated with alcohol use disorders (AUDs). The endocannabinoid system has been implicated in the development of AUDs, but little is known about how the neurotoxic effects of alcohol impact the endocannabinoid system. Therefore, the current study investigated the effects of neurotoxic, binge-like alcohol exposure on components of the endocannabinoid system and related N-acylethanolamines (NAEs), and then evaluated the efficacy of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) inhibition on attenuating alcohol-induced neurodegeneration.

Male rats were administered alcohol according to a binge model, which resulted in a transient decrease in [³H]-CP-55,940 binding in the entorhinal cortex and hippocampus following two days, but not four days, of treatment. Furthermore, binge alcohol treatment did not change the tissue content of the three NAEs quantified, including the endocannabinoid and anandamide. In a separate study, the FAAH inhibitor, URB597 was administered to rats during alcohol treatment and neuroprotection was assessed by FluoroJade B (FJB) staining.

The administration of URB597 during binge treatment did not significantly reduce FJB+ cells in the entorhinal cortex or hippocampus, however, a follow up “target engagement” study found that NAE augmentation by URB597 was impaired in alcohol intoxicated rats. Thus, potential alcohol induced alterations in URB597 pharmacodynamics may have contributed to the lack of neuroprotection by FAAH inhibition.”

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Adolescent ethanol intake alters cannabinoid type-1 receptor localization in astrocytes of the adult mouse hippocampus.

Addiction Biology

“Cannabinoid type-1 (CB1 ) receptors are widely distributed in the brain and play important roles in astrocyte function and the modulation of neuronal synaptic transmission and plasticity. However, it is currently unknown how CB1 receptor expression in astrocytes is affected by long-term exposure to stressors.

Here we examined CB1 receptors in astrocytes of ethanol (EtOH)-exposed adolescent mice to determine its effect on CB1 receptor localization and density in adult brain.

Our results revealed a significant reduction in CB1 receptor immunoparticles in astrocytic processes of EtOH-exposed mice when compared with controls (positive astrocyte elements: 21.50 ± 2.80 percent versus 37.22 ± 3.12 percent, respectively), as well as a reduction in particle density (0.24 ± 0.02 versus 0.35 ± 0.02 particles/μm).

Altogether, the decrease in the CB1 receptor expression in hippocampal astrocytes of adult mice exposed to EtOH during adolescence reveals a long lasting effect of EtOH on astrocytic CB1 receptors. This deficiency may also have negative consequences for synaptic function.”

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Associations between medical cannabis and prescription opioid use in chronic pain patients: A preliminary cohort study.

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“Current levels and dangers of opioid use in the U.S. warrant the investigation of harm-reducing treatment alternatives.


A preliminary, historical, cohort study was used to examine the association between enrollment in the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program (MCP) and opioid prescription use.


By the end of the 21 month observation period, MCP enrollment was associated with 17.27 higher age- and gender-adjusted odds of ceasing opioid prescriptions (CI 1.89 to 157.36, p = 0.012), 5.12 higher odds of reducing daily prescription opioid dosages (CI 1.56 to 16.88, p = 0.007), and a 47 percentage point reduction in daily opioid dosages relative to a mean change of positive 10.4 percentage points in the comparison group (CI -90.68 to -3.59, p = 0.034). The monthly trend in opioid prescriptions over time was negative among MCP patients (-0.64mg IV morphine, CI -1.10 to -0.18, p = 0.008), but not statistically different from zero in the comparison group (0.18mg IV morphine, CI -0.02 to 0.39, p = 0.081). Survey responses indicated improvements in pain reduction, quality of life, social life, activity levels, and concentration, and few side effects from using cannabis one year after enrollment in the MCP (ps<0.001).


The clinically and statistically significant evidence of an association between MCP enrollment and opioid prescription cessation and reductions and improved quality of life warrants further investigations on cannabis as a potential alternative to prescription opioids for treating chronic pain.”

“In summary, if cannabis can serve as an alternative to prescription opioids for at least some patients, legislators and the medical community may want to consider medical cannabis programs as a potential tool for combating the current opioid epidemic.”

“Study finds medical cannabis is effective at reducing opioid addiction”

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Study finds medical cannabis is effective at reducing opioid addiction

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“A new study conducted by researchers at The University of New Mexico, involving medical cannabis and prescription opioid use among chronic pain patients, found a distinct connection between having the legal ability to use cannabis and significant reductions in opioid use.

The study titled, “Associations between Medical Cannabis and Prescription Opioid Use in Chronic Pain Patients: A Preliminary Cohort Study,” and published in the open access journal PLOS ONE, was conducted by Drs. Jacob Miguel Vigil, associate professor, Department of Psychology and Sarah See Stith, assistant professor, Department of Economics.

The results from this preliminary study showed a strong correlation between enrollment in the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program (MCP) and cessation or reduction of opioid use, and that whole, natural Cannabis sativa and extracts made from the plant may serve as an alternative to opioid-based medications for treating chronic pain.

“If cannabis can serve as an alternative to prescription opioids for at least some patients, legislators and the medical community may want to consider medical cannabis programs as a potential tool for combating the current opioid epidemic,””

“Associations between medical cannabis and prescription opioid use in chronic pain patients: A preliminary cohort study.”

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Cannabinoids offer alternatives to opioids for pain relief, experts say.

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“Alternatives to opioids can be used alone or in combination with opioids for pain relief, to help prevent medical exposure to narcotics being an entry point to misuse, said experts at a medical education forum in Washington, DC on 3 November.

Endocannabinoid compounds found in marijuana can greatly enhance the potency of opioids in relieving pain.

The synergy from using these drugs together can result in more effective pain relief from lower doses of opioids,”

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Cannabinoid-1 receptor neutral antagonist reduces binge-like alcohol consumption and alcohol-induced accumbal dopaminergic signaling.

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“Binge alcohol (ethanol) drinking is associated with profound adverse effects on our health and society. Rimonabant (SR141716A), a CB1 receptor inverse agonist, was previously shown to be effective for nicotine cessation and obesity. However, studies using rimonabant were discontinued as it was associated with an increased risk of depression and anxiety.

In the present study, we examined the pharmacokinetics and effects of AM4113, a novel CB1 receptor neutral antagonist on binge-like ethanol drinking in C57BL/6J mice using a two-bottle choice drinking-in-dark (DID) paradigm.

The results indicated a slower elimination of AM4113 in the brain than in plasma. AM4113 suppressed ethanol consumption and preference without having significant effects on body weight, ambulatory activity, preference for tastants (saccharin and quinine) and ethanol metabolism. AM4113 pretreatment reduced ethanol-induced increase in dopamine release in nucleus accumbens.

Collectively, these data suggest an important role of CB1 receptor-mediated regulation of binge-like ethanol consumption and mesolimbic dopaminergic signaling, and further points to the potential utility of CB1 neutral antagonists for the treatment of binge ethanol drinking.”


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THC inhibits the expression of ethanol-induced locomotor sensitization in mice.

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“The motivational circuit activated by ethanol leads to behavioral changes that recruit the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Case reports and observational studies suggest that the use of Cannabis sp. mitigates problematic ethanol consumption in humans.

Here, we verified the effects of the two main phytocannabinoid compounds of Cannabis sp., cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), in the expression of ethanol-induced locomotor sensitization in mice.

Our findings showing that phytocannabinoid treatment prevents the expression of behavioral sensitization in mice provide insight into the potential therapeutic use of phytocannabinoids in alcohol-related problems.”

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Recreational Cannabis Legalization and Opioid-Related Deaths in Colorado, 2000-2015.

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“To examine the association between Colorado’s legalization of recreational cannabis use and opioid-related deaths.


Colorado’s legalization of recreational cannabis sales and use resulted in a 0.7 deaths per month (b = -0.68; 95% confidence interval = -1.34, -0.03) reduction in opioid-related deaths. This reduction represents a reversal of the upward trend in opioid-related deaths in Colorado.


Legalization of cannabis in Colorado was associated with short-term reductions in opioid-related deaths. As additional data become available, research should replicate these analyses in other states with legal recreational cannabis.”

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Cannabis for the Treatment of Chronic Pain in the Era of an Opioid Epidemic: A Symposium-Based Review of Sociomedical Science.

Pain Medicine

“This manuscript reviews medical literature published pertaining to the management of chronic pain with medical marijuana therapy (MMJ), with an emphasis on the social, medical, and legal aspects of therapy.


Increasing interest in MMJ for chronic pain underscores a need for primary care and pain physicians to better understand the indications and evidence for its use free from cultural bias. Given a lack of full conclusive clinical utility, continued research is needed to better understand how to best utilize MMJ therapy for the treatment of chronic pain.”

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Involvement of cannabinoid system in the nucleus accumbens on delay-based decision making in the rat.

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“The nucleus accumbens (NAc) plays a fundamental role in decision making and anticipation of reward. In addition, exogenous cannabinoids affect the behavior of humans and animals including disruption of short-term memory and cognitive impairments. Therefore, in this study, cannabinoid agonist and antagonist were administrated into the NAc to determine the effect of cannabinoid activation in the entire NAc on delay-based decision making. Rats were trained on a cost-benefit T-maze decision making task in which the animals were well-trained to choose between a small/immediate reward and a large/delay reward. After training, the animals were implanted with guide cannulae in the NAc. On test day, they received cannabinoid agonist (Win 55,212-2; 10, 50 and 100μM) and/or antagonist (AM251; 45μM) into the NAc. Percentage of high reward choice and latency of reward achievement were evaluated. Results showed that cannabinoid agonist administration caused a decrease in high reward choice such that rats selected small/immediate reward instead of large/delay reward. Moreover, in agonist-treated animals latency of reward achievement increased. Effects of cannabinoid activation on delay-based decision making with equivalent delays demonstrated that if the delay was equated on both arm goals, animals still had a preference for the high/delay reward, showing the results was not caused by an impairment of spatial preference or memory. These finding clarified that cannabinoid system activation in the entire NAc plays a critical role in the regulation of delay-based decision making.”

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