Implication of cannabinoids in neurological diseases.

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“1. Preparations from Cannabis sativa (marijuana) have been used for many centuries both medicinally and recreationally. 2. Recent advances in the knowledge of its pharmacological and chemical properties in the organism, mainly due to Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol, and the physiological roles played by the endocannabinoids have opened up new strategies in the treatment of neurological and psychiatric diseases. 3. Potential therapeutic uses of cannabinoid receptor agonists include the management of spasticity and tremor in multiple sclerosis/spinal cord injury, pain, inflammatory disorders, glaucoma, bronchial asthma, cancer, and vasodilation that accompanies advanced cirrhosis. CB(1) receptor antagonists have therapeutic potential in Parkinson’s disease. 4. Dr. Julius Axelrod also contributed in studies on the neuroprotective actions of cannabinoids.”

“Medical marijuana: emerging applications for the management of neurologic disorders.”
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ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM: A multi-facet therapeutic target.

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“Cannabis sativa is also popularly known as marijuana. It is being cultivated and used by man for recreational and medicinal purposes from many centuries.

Study of cannabinoids was at bay for very long time and its therapeutic value could not be adequately harnessed due to its legal status as proscribed drug in most of the countries.

The research of drugs acting on endocannabinoid system has seen many ups and down in recent past. Presently, it is known that endocannabinoids has role in pathology of many disorders and they also serve “protective role” in many medical conditions.

Several diseases like emesis, pain, inflammation, multiple sclerosis, anorexia, epilepsy, glaucoma, schizophrenia, cardiovascular disorders, cancer, obesity, metabolic syndrome related diseases, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and Tourette’s syndrome could possibly be treated by drugs modulating endocannabinoid system.

Presently, cannabinoid receptor agonists like nabilone and dronabinol are used for reducing the chemotherapy induced vomiting. Sativex (cannabidiol and THC combination) is approved in the UK, Spain and New Zealand to treat spasticity due to multiple sclerosis. In US it is under investigation for cancer pain, another drug Epidiolex (cannabidiol) is also under investigation in US for childhood seizures. Rimonabant, CB1 receptor antagonist appeared as a promising anti-obesity drug during clinical trials but it also exhibited remarkable psychiatric side effect profile. Due to which the US Food and Drug Administration did not approve Rimonabant in US. It sale was also suspended across the EU in 2008.

Recent discontinuation of clinical trial related to FAAH inhibitor due to occurrence of serious adverse events in the participating subjects could be discouraging for the research fraternity. Despite of some mishaps in clinical trials related to drugs acting on endocannabinoid system, still lot of research is being carried out to explore and establish the therapeutic targets for both cannabinoid receptor agonists and antagonists.

One challenge is to develop drugs that target only cannabinoid receptors in a particular tissue and another is to invent drugs that acts selectively on cannabinoid receptors located outside the blood brain barrier. Besides this, development of the suitable dosage forms with maximum efficacy and minimum adverse effects is also warranted.

Another angle to be introspected for therapeutic abilities of this group of drugs is non-CB1 and non-CB2 receptor targets for cannabinoids.

In order to successfully exploit the therapeutic potential of endocannabinoid system, it is imperative to further characterize the endocannabinoid system in terms of identification of the exact cellular location of cannabinoid receptors and their role as “protective” and “disease inducing substance”, time-dependent changes in the expression of cannabinoid receptors.”

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Long-term cannabinoid type 2 receptor agonist therapy decreases Bacterial Translocation In Rats with cirrhosis and ascites.

“Intestinal hyper-permeability, impaired peritoneal macrophages (PMs) phagocytosis, and, bacterial translocation (BT) resulting in increased systemic and local infection/inflammation such as spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP), together with increased tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα) levels, are all implicated in the pathogenesis of cirrhosis-related complications.

Manipulation of cannabinoid receptors (CB1R and CB2R), which are expressed on the gut mucosa and PMs, has been reported to modulate intestinal inflammation and systemic inflammatory cytokines release. Our study aims to explore the effects of chronic CB1R/CB2R agonist/antagonist treatments on relevant abnormalities in cirrhotic ascitic rats…


Our study suggests that CB2R agonist have the potential to treat BT and various relevant abnormalities through the inhibition of systemic/intestinal oxidative stress, inflammatory cytokines and TNFα releases in cirrhosis. Overall, chronic CB2R agonist treatment affects multiple approach mechanisms, and the direct effect on hyperdynamic circulation is only minor.”

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Therapeutic potential of cannabinoid medicines.

Drug Testing and Analysis

“Cannabis was extensively used as a medicine throughout the developed world in the nineteenth century but went into decline early in the twentieth century ahead of its emergence as the most widely used illicit recreational drug later that century. Recent advances in cannabinoid pharmacology alongside the discovery of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) have re-ignited interest in cannabis-based medicines.

The ECS has emerged as an important physiological system and plausible target for new medicines. Its receptors and endogenous ligands play a vital modulatory role in diverse functions including immune response, food intake, cognition, emotion, perception, behavioural reinforcement, motor co-ordination, body temperature, wake/sleep cycle, bone formation and resorption, and various aspects of hormonal control. In disease it may act as part of the physiological response or as a component of the underlying pathology.

In the forefront of clinical research are the cannabinoids delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol, and their contrasting pharmacology will be briefly outlined. The therapeutic potential and possible risks of drugs that inhibit the ECS will also be considered. This paper will then go on to review clinical research exploring the potential of cannabinoid medicines in the following indications: symptomatic relief in multiple sclerosis, chronic neuropathic pain, intractable nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite and weight in the context of cancer or AIDS, psychosis, epilepsy, addiction, and metabolic disorders.”

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The endocannabinoid system in advanced liver cirrhosis: pathophysiological implication and future perspectives.

“Endogenous cannabinoids (EC) are ubiquitous lipid signalling molecules providing different central and peripheral effects that are mediated mostly by the specific receptors CB1 and CB2. The EC system is highly upregulated during chronic liver disease and consistent experimental and clinical findings indicate that it plays a role in the pathogenesis of liver fibrosis and fatty liver disease associated with obesity, alcohol abuse and hepatitis C.

Furthermore, a considerable number of studies have shown that EC and their receptors contribute to the pathogenesis of the cardio-circulatory disturbances occurring in advanced cirrhosis, such as portal hypertension, hyperdynamic circulatory syndrome and cirrhotic cardiomyopathy.

More recently, the EC system has been implicated in the development of ascites, hepatic encephalopathy and the inflammatory response related to bacterial infection. Rimonabant, a selective CB1 antagonist, was the first drug acting on the EC system approved for the treatment of obesity. Unfortunately, it has been withdrawn from the market because of its neuropsychiatric side effects.

Compounds able to target selectively the peripheral CB1 receptors are under evaluation.

In addition, molecules stimulating CB2 receptor or modulating the activity of enzymes implicated in EC metabolism are promising areas of pharmacological research.

Liver cirrhosis and the related complications represent an important target for the clinical application of these compounds.”

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The endocannabinoid system and its therapeutic exploitation.

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“The term ‘endocannabinoid’ – originally coined in the mid-1990s after the discovery of membrane receptors for the psychoactive principle in Cannabis, Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol and their endogenous ligands – now indicates a whole signalling system that comprises cannabinoid receptors, endogenous ligands and enzymes for ligand biosynthesis and inactivation. This system seems to be involved in an ever-increasing number of pathological conditions. With novel products already being aimed at the pharmaceutical market little more than a decade since the discovery of cannabinoid receptors, the endocannabinoid system seems to hold even more promise for the future development of therapeutic drugs. We explore the conditions under which the potential of targeting the endocannabinoid system might be realized in the years to come.”

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From cannabis to the endocannabinoid system: refocussing attention on potential clinical benefits.

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“Cannabis sativa is one of the oldest herbal remedies known to man. Over the past four thousand years, it has been used for the treatment of numerous diseases but due to its psychoactive properties, its current medicinal usage is highly restricted. In this review, we seek to highlight advances made over the last forty years in the understanding of the mechanisms responsible for the effects of cannabis on the human body and how these can potentially be utilized in clinical practice. During this time, the primary active ingredients in cannabis have been isolated, specific cannabinoid receptors have been discovered and at least five endogenous cannabinoid neurotransmitters (endocannabinoids) have been identified. Together, these form the framework of a complex endocannabinoid signalling system that has widespread distribution in the body and plays a role in regulating numerous physiological processes within the body. Cannabinoid ligands are therefore thought to display considerable therapeutic potential and the drive to develop compounds that can be targeted to specific neuronal systems at low enough doses so as to eliminate cognitive side effects remains the ‘holy grail’ of endocannabinoid research.”

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CB1 cannabinoid receptor antagonism: a new strategy for the treatment of liver fibrosis.

“Hepatic fibrosis, the common response associated with chronic liver diseases, ultimately leads to cirrhosis, a major public health problem worldwide. We recently showed that activation of hepatic cannabinoid CB2 receptors limits progression of experimental liver fibrosis… In conclusion, our study shows that CB1 receptor antagonists hold promise for the treatment of liver fibrosis.”

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Cannabinoid type 1 receptor antagonism delays ascites formation in rats with cirrhosis.

  “Endocannabinoids contribute to hemodynamic abnormalities of cirrhosis. Whether this favors renal sodium retention and ascites formation is unknown. We determined whether cannabinoid type 1 receptor antagonism prevents sodium retention and ascites formation in preascitic cirrhotic rats.”


“Cannabinoid type 1 receptor antagonism delays ascites formation in rats with cirrhosis.”


“Rimonabant improves sodium balance and delays decompensation in preascitic cirrhosis. This is achieved though an improvement in systemic and renal hemodynamics, although it cannot be excluded that the antifibrotic effect of the drug may play a role.”

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Reversal of liver fibrosis by the antagonism of endocannabinoid CB1 receptor in a rat model of CCl(4)-induced advanced cirrhosis.


“The endocannabinoid system is involved in the pathogenesis of liver fibrosis. Although many substances have been proved to reduce fibrosis in experimental models of chronic liver injury, most of them appear to be effective only if given as a prophylactic or early treatment. This study aimed to explore the effect of pharmacological antagonism of the endocannabinoid cannabinoid type 1 (CB1) receptor started after the stage of full-blown cirrhosis had been reached. Wistar-Han rats with carbon tetrachloride (CCl(4))-induced cirrhosis were randomized to receive the CB1 receptor antagonist Rimonabant (10 mg/kg/day) or the vehicle for 2 weeks. Age-matched healthy rats served as controls. Liver fibrosis was assessed using Sirius red staining, hydroxyproline concentration and α-smooth muscle actin expression. Hepatic gene expression of mediators of fibrogenesis and inflammation were evaluated by real-time PCR. We also assessed the hepatic expression of CB1 and CB2 receptors and that of the enzymes implicated in the endocannabinoid metabolism. Fibrosis was significantly reduced in rats treated with Rimonabant compared with rats receiving the vehicle. CB1 receptor antagonism limited the gene upregulation of fibrogenic and inflammatory mediators occurring in untreated cirrhotic rats. CB1 and CB2 receptor expression was increased in cirrhotic animals. Interestingly, pharmacological CB1 receptor antagonism was associated with a further induction of the CB2 receptor expression. Regression of fibrosis can be achieved by pharmacological blockade of the CB1 receptor even when started in an advanced stage of the disease. This effect is associated with the suppression of pro-fibrogenic and inflammatory mediators and may have been indirectly favoured by the induction of CB2 receptor expression.”

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