The Endocannabinoid System: A Potential Target for the Treatment of Various Diseases

ijms-logo“The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is primarily responsible for maintaining homeostasis, a balance in internal environment (temperature, mood, and immune system) and energy input and output in living, biological systems.

In addition to regulating physiological processes, the ECS directly influences anxiety, feeding behaviour/appetite, emotional behaviour, depression, nervous functions, neurogenesis, neuroprotection, reward, cognition, learning, memory, pain sensation, fertility, pregnancy, and pre-and post-natal development.

The ECS is also involved in several pathophysiological diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases. In recent years, genetic and pharmacological manipulation of the ECS has gained significant interest in medicine, research, and drug discovery and development.

The distribution of the components of the ECS system throughout the body, and the physiological/pathophysiological role of the ECS-signalling pathways in many diseases, all offer promising opportunities for the development of novel cannabinergic, cannabimimetic, and cannabinoid-based therapeutic drugs that genetically or pharmacologically modulate the ECS via inhibition of metabolic pathways and/or agonism or antagonism of the receptors of the ECS. This modulation results in the differential expression/activity of the components of the ECS that may be beneficial in the treatment of a number of diseases.

This manuscript in-depth review will investigate the potential of the ECS in the treatment of various diseases, and to put forth the suggestion that many of these secondary metabolites of Cannabis sativa L. (hereafter referred to as “C. sativa L.” or “medical cannabis”), may also have potential as lead compounds in the development of cannabinoid-based pharmaceuticals for a variety of diseases.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34502379/

https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/22/17/9472

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous

Cannabis and cannabinoid use in autism spectrum disorder: a systematic review

SciELO (Scientific Electronic Library Online) | UOC LibraryAutism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction, associated with the presence of restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities. Cannabis has been used to alleviate symptoms associated with ASD.

Method: We carried out a systematic review of studies that investigated the clinical effects of cannabis and cannabinoid use on ASD, according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA checklist). The search was carried out in four databases: MEDLINE/PubMed, Scientific Electronic Library Online (SciELO), Scopus, and Web of Science. No limits were established for language during the selection process. Nine studies were selected and analyzed.

Results: Some studies showed that cannabis products reduced the number and/or intensity of different symptoms, including hyperactivity, attacks of self-mutilation and anger, sleep problems, anxiety, restlessness, psychomotor agitation, irritability, aggressiveness perseverance, and depression. Moreover, they found an improvement in cognition, sensory sensitivity, attention, social interaction, and language. The most common adverse effects were sleep disorders, restlessness, nervousness and change in appetite.

Conclusion: Cannabis and cannabinoids may have promising effects in the treatment of symptoms related to ASD, and can be used as a therapeutic alternative in the relief of those symptoms. However, randomized, blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials are necessary to clarify findings on the effects of cannabis and its cannabinoids in individuals with ASD.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34043900/

 

“Cannabis and cannabinoids have very promising effects in the treatment of autistic symptoms and can be used in the future as an important therapeutic alternative to relieve those symptoms, especially bouts of self-mutilation and anger, hyperactivity, sleep problems, anxiety, restlessness, psychomotor agitation, irritability, and aggressiveness; as well as improve sensory sensitivity, cognition, attention, social interaction, language, perseverance, and depression.”

https://www.scielo.br/j/trends/a/LBmJK6d8bqr5jVK6fp3CHXt/?lang=en

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous

Healing autism spectrum disorder with cannabinoids: a neuroinflammatory story

 Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews“Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder with a multifactorial etiology. Latest researches are raising the hypothesis of a link between the onset of the main behavioral symptoms of ASD and the chronic neuroinflammatory condition of the autistic brain; increasing evidence of this connection is shedding light on new possible players in the pathogenesis of ASD.

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) has a key role in neurodevelopment as well as in normal inflammatory responses and it is not surprising that many preclinical and clinical studies account for alterations of the endocannabinoid signaling in ASD. These findings lay the foundation for a better understanding of the neurochemical mechanisms underlying ASD and for new therapeutic attempts aimed at exploiting the renowned anti-inflammatory properties of cannabinoids to treat pathologies encompassed in the autistic spectrum.

This review discusses the current preclinical and clinical evidence supporting a key role of the ECS in the neuroinflammatory state that characterizes ASD, providing hints to identify new biomarkers in ASD and promising therapies for the future.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33358985/

“Autism spectrum disorder has a multifactorial and complex etiology. Changes in the endocannabinoid system are found in autistic patients. Neuroinflammation is detected in autistic patients. The endocannabinoid system has a key role in neuroinflammation. Future therapies exploiting cannabinoid drugs.”

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0149763420306850?via%3Dihub

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous

A pediatric patient with autism spectrum disorder and epilepsy using cannabinoid extracts as complementary therapy: a case report

 Journal of Medical Case Reports | Home page“The pharmacological treatment for autism spectrum disorders is often poorly tolerated and has traditionally targeted associated conditions, with limited benefit for the core social deficits.

We describe the novel use of a cannabidiol-based extract that incidentally improved core social deficits and overall functioning in a patient with autism spectrum disorder, at a lower dose than has been previously reported in autism spectrum disorder.

Case presentation: The parents of a 15-year-old boy, of South African descent, with autism spectrum disorder, selective mutism, anxiety, and controlled epilepsy, consulted a medical cannabis physician to trial cannabis extract to replace seizure medications. Incidentally, at a very low cannabidiol-based extract dose, he experienced unanticipated positive effects on behavioral symptoms and core social deficits.

Conclusion: This case report provides evidence that a lower than previously reported dose of a phytocannabinoid in the form of a cannabidiol-based extract may be capable of aiding in autism spectrum disorder-related behavioral symptoms, core social communication abilities, and comorbid anxiety, sleep difficulties, and weight control. Further research is needed to elucidate the clinical role and underlying biological mechanisms of action of cannabidiol-based extract in patients with autism spectrum disorder.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32958062/

https://jmedicalcasereports.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13256-020-02478-7

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous

Autism Spectrum Disorder and Medical Cannabis: Review and Clinical Experience

Seminars in Pediatric Neurology “Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a multifactorial, pervasive neurodevelopmental disorder defined by the core symptoms of significant impairment in social interaction and communication as well as restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior. In addition to these core behaviors, persons with ASD frequently have associated noncore behavioral disturbance (ie, self-injury, aggression), as well as several medical comorbidities. Currently, no effective treatment exists for the core symptoms of ASD.

This review reports the available preclinical and clinical data regarding the use of cannabis and cannabidiol in the treatment of core symptoms, noncore symptoms and comorbidities associated with ASD. Additionally, we describe our clinical experience working with children and young adults with ASD who have used cannabis or cannabidiol.

At present, preclinical and clinical data suggest a potential for therapeutic benefit among some persons with ASD and that it is overall well tolerated.

Further research is required to better identify patients who may benefit from treatment without adverse effects.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32892960/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1071909120300449?via%3Dihub

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous

Cannabinoids for People with ASD: A Systematic Review of Published and Ongoing Studies

brainsci-logo“The etiopathogenesis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) remains largely unclear.

Among other biological hypotheses, researchers have evidenced an imbalance in the endocannabinoid (eCB) system, which regulates some functions typically impaired in ASD, such as emotional responses and social interaction. Additionally, cannabidiol (CBD), the non-intoxicating component of Cannabis sativa, was recently approved for treatment-resistant epilepsy.

Epilepsy represents a common medical condition in people with ASD. Additionally, the two conditions share some neuropathological mechanisms, particularly GABAergic dysfunctions. Hence, it was hypothesized that cannabinoids could be useful in improving ASD symptoms.

The findings were promising, as cannabinoids appeared to improve some ASD-associated symptoms, such as problem behaviors, sleep problems, and hyperactivity, with limited cardiac and metabolic side effects. Conversely, the knowledge of their effects on ASD core symptoms is scarce.

Interestingly, cannabinoids generally allowed to reduce the number of prescribed medications and decreased the frequency of seizures in patients with comorbid epilepsy. Mechanisms of action could be linked to the excitatory/inhibitory imbalance found in people with ASD. However, further trials with better characterization and homogenization of samples, and well-defined outcomes should be implemented.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32825313/

https://www.mdpi.com/2076-3425/10/9/572

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous

Possible therapeutic applications of cannabis in the neuropsychopharmacology field.

European Neuropsychopharmacology“Cannabis use induces a plethora of actions on the CNS via its active chemical ingredients, the so-called phytocannabinoids.

These compounds have been frequently associated with the intoxicating properties of cannabis preparations. However, not all phytocannabinoids are psychotropic, and, irrespective of whether they are psychotropic or not, they have also shown numerous therapeutic properties.

These properties are mostly associated with their ability to modulate the activity of an intercellular communication system, the so-called endocannabinoid system, which is highly active in the CNS and has been found altered in many neurological disorders.

Specifically, this includes the neuropsychopharmacology field, with diseases such as schizophrenia and related psychoses, anxiety-related disorders, mood disorders, addiction, sleep disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, anorexia nervosa and other feeding-related disorders, dementia, epileptic syndromes, as well as autism, fragile X syndrome and other neurodevelopment-related disorders.

Here, we gather, from a pharmacological and biochemical standpoint, the recent advances in the study of the therapeutic relevance of the endocannabinoid system in the CNS, with especial emphasis on the neuropsychopharmacology field. We also illustrate the efforts that are currently being made to investigate at the clinical level the potential therapeutic benefits derived from elevating or inhibiting endocannabinoid signaling in animal models of neuropsychiatric disorders.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32057592

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0924977X20300365?via%3Dihub

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous

Medical Cannabis in Children.

 Logo of rmmj“The use of medical cannabis in children is rapidly growing.

While robust evidence currently exists only for pure cannabidiol (CBD) to treat specific types of refractory epilepsy, in most cases, artisanal strains of CBD-rich medical cannabis are being used to treat children with various types of refractory epilepsy or irritability associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Other common pediatric disorders that are being considered for cannabis treatment are Tourette syndrome and spasticity.

As recreational cannabis use during youth is associated with serious adverse events and medical cannabis use is believed to have a relatively high placebo effect, decisions to use medical cannabis during childhood and adolescence should be made with caution and based on evidence.

This review summarizes the current evidence for safety, tolerability, and efficacy of medical cannabis in children with epilepsy and in children with ASD. The main risks associated with use of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD in the pediatric population are described, as well as the debate regarding the use of whole-plant extract to retain a possible “entourage effect” as opposed to pure cannabinoids that are more standardized and reproducible.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32017680

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous

Medicinal Use of Cannabis in Children and Pregnant Women.

 Image result for Rambam Maimonides Med J.“The increasing medicinal use of cannabis during recent years has largely overlooked children and pregnant women due to litigious and ethical concerns.

However, over the last few years medicine has observed increasing numbers of children treated with cannabis for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), and pregnant women treated for hyperemesis gravidarum (HG).

This review provides an account of major findings discovered through this research.

Specifically, cannabis may offer therapeutic advantages to behavioral symptoms of autism spectrum disorder and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, and to the severe nausea and vomiting in hyperemesis gravidarum.

The use of medical cannabis in children and pregnant women should be further discussed and researched in this patient population.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31826800

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous

Effects of cannabidivarin (CBDV) on brain excitation and inhibition systems in adults with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): a single dose trial during magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

Image result for translational psychiatry“Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a high cost neurodevelopmental condition; and there are currently no effective pharmacological treatments for its core symptoms. This has led some families and researchers to trial alternative remedies – including the non-intoxicating Cannabis sativa-derived compound cannabidivarin (CBDV). However, how CBDV affects the human brain is unknown.

Previous (pre)clinical evidence suggests that CBDV may modulate brain excitatory-inhibitory systems, which are implicated in ASD. Hence, our main aim was to test, for the first time, if CBDV shifts glutamate and/or GABA metabolites – markers of the brain’s primary excitatory and inhibitory system – in both the ‘typical’ and autistic brain.

Our subsidiary aim was to determine whether, within ASD, brain responsivity to CBDV challenge is related to baseline biological phenotype. We tested this using a repeated-measures, double-blind, randomized-order, cross-over design.

We used magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to compare glutamate (Glx = glutamate + glutamine) and GABA + (GABA + macromolecules) levels following placebo (baseline) and 600 mg CBDV in 34 healthy men with (n = 17) and without (n = 17) ASD. Data acquisition from regions previously reliably linked to ASD (dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, DMPFC; left basal ganglia, BG) commenced 2 h (peak plasma levels) after placebo/CBDV administration. Where CBDV significantly shifted metabolite levels, we examined the relationship of this change with baseline metabolite levels. Test sessions were at least 13 days apart to ensure CBDV wash-out. CBDV significantly increased Glx in the BG of both groups. However, this impact was not uniform across individuals. In the ASD group, and not in the typically developing controls, the ‘shift’ in Glx correlated negatively with baseline Glx concentration. In contrast, CBDV had no significant impact on Glx in the DMPFC, or on GABA+ in either voxel in either group.

Our findings suggest that, as measured by MRS, CBDV modulates the glutamate-GABA system in the BG but not in frontal regions. Moreover, there is individual variation in response depending on baseline biochemistry. Future studies should examine the effect of CBDV on behaviour and if the response to an acute dose of CBDV could predict a potential clinical treatment response in ASD.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31748505

“Here we report that CBDV can ‘shift’ subcortical levels of the brain’s primary excitatory metabolite glutamate (measured as Glx) both in the neurotypical and autistic brain; but that there may be significant response variability in ASD. These findings add to our understanding of the effects of CBDV in the adult human brain. Nonetheless, future studies will need to explore (i) the mechanisms of action of CBDV; (ii) the impact of CBDV on (ASD-related) cognition and behaviour; (iii) if single-dose responsivity could facilitate the identification of pharmacologically homogeneous sub-groups; and (iv) if acute CBDV effects are indicative of the impact of long-term treatment in ASD.”

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41398-019-0654-8

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous