Comparative study of CNR1 and CNR2 cannabinoid receptors expression levels in COVID-19 patients with and without diabetes mellitus: Recommendations for future research targets

Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome: Clinical Research & Reviews

“Background and aims: The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted researchers to look for effective therapeutic targets. The effect of endocannabinoid system against infectious diseases is investigated for several years. In this study, we evaluated the expression level of CNR1 and CNR2 genes in patients with COVID-19 with and without diabetes to provide new insights regarding these receptors and their potential effect in COVID-19 disease.

Methods: In this study, peripheral blood monocytes cells (PBMCs) were isolated from eight different groups including COVID-19 patients, diabetic patients, and healthy individuals. RNA were extracted to evaluate the expression level of CNR1 and CNR2 genes using real-time PCR. The correlation between the expression levels of these genes in different groups were assessed.

Results: A total of 80 samples were divided into 8 groups, with each group consisting of ten samples. When comparing severe and moderate COVID-19 groups to healthy control group, the expression levels of the CNR1 and CNR2 genes were significantly higher in the severe and moderate COVID-19 groups. There were no significant differences between the mild COVID-19 group and the healthy control group. It was found that the expression levels of these genes in patients with diabetes who were infected with SARS-COV-2 did not differ across COVID-19 groups with varying severity, but they were significantly higher when compared to healthy controls.

Conclusion: Our study suggests the possible role of endocannabinoid system during SARS-COV-2 pathogenicity as the expression of CNR1 and CNR2 were elevated during the disease.”

“In conclusion, the outcomes of this research supports the possible role of endocannabinoid system during SARS-COV-2 pathogenicity as the expression of CNR1 and CNR2 were elevated during the disease. Moreover, despite their limitations due to psychiatric side effects, the regulated use of cannabinoids should be examined by researchers to identify their potential effectiveness as a therapeutic target in COVID-19 disease.”

Effect of cannabidiol on apoptosis and cellular interferon and interferon-stimulated gene responses to the SARS-CoV-2 genes ORF8, ORF10 and M protein

Life Sciences

“Aims: To study effects on cellular innate immune responses to ORF8, ORF10, and Membrane protein (M protein) from the Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) that causes COVID-19, in combination with cannabidiol (CBD).

Main methods: HEK293 cells transfected with plasmids expressing control vector, ORF8, ORF10, or M protein were assayed for cell number and markers of apoptosis at 24 h, and interferon and interferon-stimulated gene expression at 14 h, with or without CBD. Cells transfected with polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid (Poly (I:C)) were also studied as a general model of RNA-type viral infection.

Key findings: Reduced cell number and increased early and late apoptosis were found when expression of viral genes was combined with 1-2 μM CBD treatment, but not in control-transfected cells treated with CBD, or in cells expressing viral genes but treated only with vehicle. In cells expressing viral genes, CBD augmented expression of IFNγ, IFNλ1 and IFNλ2/3, as well as the 2′-5′-oligoadenylate synthetase (OAS) family members OAS1, OAS2, OAS3, and OASL. CBD also augmented expression of these genes in control cells not expressing viral genes, but without enhancing apoptosis. CBD similarly enhanced the cellular anti-viral response to Poly (I:C).

Significance: Our results demonstrate a poor ability of HEK293 cells to respond to SARS-CoV-2 genes alone, but an augmented innate anti-viral response to these genes in the presence of CBD. Thus, CBD may prime components of the innate immune system, increasing readiness to respond to RNA-type viral infection without activating apoptosis, and could be studied for potential in prophylaxis.”

The Role of Cannabis sativa L. as a Source of Cannabinoids against Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2): An In Silico Study to Evaluate Their Activities and ADMET Properties


“Cannabis sativa L. is an annual herbaceous plant that belongs to the family Cannabinaceae. In this study, the potential use of forty-five cannabinoids, previously identified from Cannabis sativa to alleviate COVID-19 infection via prohibition of crucial SARS-CoV-2 proteins using molecular docking, was examined. In silico studies were performed on three vital enzymes that serve as principle therapeutic targets to prevent SARS-CoV-2 replication. These enzymes are the main protease SARS-CoV-2 MPro, papain-like protease SARS-CoV-2 PLpro and angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). Regarding SARS-CoV-2 MPro, cannabichromanon (32) showed the best fitting within its active centers, followed by cannabinolic acid (22) and cannabinol (21), displaying ∆G of -33.63, -23.24, and -21.60 kcal/mol, respectively. Concerning SARS-CoV-2 PLpro, cannabichromanon (32) followed by cannabinolic acid (22) and cannabicyclolic acid (41) revealed the best binding within its active pockets owing to multiple bond formation with ∆G values of -28.36, -22.81, and -19.89 kcal/mol. Furthermore, cannabichromanon (32), cannabinolic acid (22), and cannabinol (21) showed considerable fitting within the active sites of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) evidenced by their significant ∆G values that were estimated as -41.77, -31.34, and -30.36 kcal/mol, respectively. ADME/TOPKAT (absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion, and toxicity) evaluation was performed on the tested cannabinoids to further explore their pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and toxicity properties. The results indicated the considerable pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamic, and toxicity properties of cannabinol (21), cannabinolic acid (22), cannabichromanon (32), and cannabicyclolic acid (41) that showed best fitting scores within the active sites of the tested enzymes. Multivariate data analysis revealed that cannabichromanon and cannabinolic acid showed a discriminant nature and hence can be incorporated in pharmaceutical dosage forms to alleviate COVID-19 infection.”

Cannabinoids Alleviate the LPS-Induced Cytokine Storm via Attenuating NLRP3 Inflammasome Signaling and TYK2-Mediated STAT3 Signaling Pathways In Vitro


“Cannabinoids, mainly cannabidiol (CBD) and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), are the most studied group of compounds obtained from Cannabis sativa because of their several pharmaceutical properties. Current evidence suggests a crucial role of cannabinoids as potent anti-inflammatory agents for the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases; however, the mechanisms remain largely unclear. Cytokine storm, a dysregulated severe inflammatory response by our immune system, is involved in the pathogenesis of numerous chronic inflammatory disorders, including coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which results in the accumulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Therefore, we hypothesized that CBD and THC reduce the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines by inhibiting key inflammatory signaling pathways. The nucleotide-binding and oligomerization domain (NOD)-like receptor family pyrin domain-containing 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome signaling has been implicated in a variety of chronic inflammatory diseases, which results in the release of pyroptotic cytokines, interleukin-1β (IL-1β) and IL-18. Likewise, the activation of the signal transducer and activator of transcription-3 (STAT3) causes increased expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines. We studied the effects of CBD and THC on lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced inflammatory response in human THP-1 macrophages and primary human bronchial epithelial cells (HBECs). Our results revealed that CBD and, for the first time, THC significantly inhibited NLRP3 inflammasome activation following LPS + ATP stimulation, leading to a reduction in the levels of IL-1β in THP-1 macrophages and HBECs. CBD attenuated the phosphorylation of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB), and both cannabinoids inhibited the generation of oxidative stress post-LPS. Our multiplex ELISA data revealed that CBD and THC significantly diminished the levels of IL-6, IL-8, and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) after LPS treatment in THP-1 macrophages and HBECs. In addition, the phosphorylation of STAT3 was significantly downregulated by CBD and THC in THP-1 macrophages and HBECs, which was in turn attributed to the reduced phosphorylation of tyrosine kinase-2 (TYK2) by CBD and THC after LPS stimulation in these cells. Overall, CBD and THC were found to be effective in alleviating the LPS-induced cytokine storm in human macrophages and primary HBECs, at least via modulation of NLRP3 inflammasome and STAT3 signaling pathways. The encouraging results from this study warrant further investigation of these cannabinoids in vivo.”

Cannabinoids as Emergent Therapy Against COVID-19

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“The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by the severe acute respiratory distress syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-Cov-2), was identified for the first time in late 2019 in China, resulting in a global pandemic of massive impact. Despite a fast development and implementation of vaccination strategies, and the scouting of several pharmacological treatments, alternative effective treatments are still needed. In this regard, cannabinoids represent a promising approach because they have been proven to exhibit several immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties in COVID-19 disease models and related pathological conditions. This mini-review aims at providing a practical brief overview of the potential applications of cannabinoids so far identified for the treatment and prevention of COVID-19, finally considering key aspects related to their technological and clinical implementation.”

“Overall, cannabinoids offer a great pharmacological potential in the management of COVID-19. It is to be hoped that the scientific evidence so far reported on cannabinoids effects along with the possibilities offered by drug delivery systems will entice the development of valuable therapies in this area.”

Cannabidiol Inhibits In Vitro Human Liver Microsomal Metabolism of Remdesivir: A Promising Adjuvant for COVID-19 Treatment

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“Introduction: The year 2020 began with the world being flounced with a wave of novel coronavirus (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 [SARS-CoV-2]) disease, named COVID-19. Based on promising pre-clinical and clinical data, remdesivir (RDV) was the first drug to receive FDA approval and so far, it is the most common therapy for treatment of SARS-CoV-2/MERS-CoV. However, following intravenous administration, RDV metabolizes majorly by human liver carboxylesterase 1 (CES1) and marginally by the CYP3A4 enzyme in merely less than an hour. Its resultant active metabolite is a hydrophilic nucleoside with very limited accumulation within lung tissues. Therefore, there is a need to investigate strategies to overcome such premature metabolism issues and improve the antiviral efficacy of RDV at the target site. Objective: Considering the major CES1-mediated metabolism of RDV on systemic administration, we intend to explore the remarkable CES1 plus CYP3A4 inhibitory activity of cannabidiol (CBD) against in vitro microsomal metabolism of RDV to indicate its therapeutic potential as an adjuvant to RDV in the treatment and management of COVID-19. Methods: We investigated the in vitro human liver microsomal metabolism of RDV in the presence of two potential CES1 inhibitors-CBD and nelfinavir, and two standard CYP3A4 inhibitors-ritonavir (RITO) and cyclosporin A. The microsomal metabolism assay was further validated by using a well-characterized CYP3A4-selective substrate, midazolam (MDZ), in the presence of CBD and RITO. Results: Our findings depicted that RDV was rapidly and completely metabolized by human liver microsomes within 60 min. Coincubation with CBD substantially reduced microsomal metabolism of RDV and prolonged its in vitro half-life from 8.93 to 31.07 min. CBD showed significantly higher inhibition of RDV compared with known CES1 and CYP3A4 inhibitors. Inhibition of MDZ metabolism by CBD and RITO further validated the assay. Conclusions: The current study strongly suggests that CBD significantly inhibits human liver microsomal metabolism of RDV and extends its in vitro half-life. Thus, concomitant administration of CBD with RDV intravenous injection could be a promising strategy to prevent premature metabolism in COVID-19 patients.”

A narrative review of molecular mechanism and therapeutic effect of cannabidiol (CBD)

“Cannabidiol (CBD) is an abundant non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid in cannabis extracts which has high affinity on a series of receptors, including Type 1 cannabinoid receptor (CB1), Type 2 cannabinoid receptor (CB2), GPR55, transient receptor potential vanilloid (TRPV) and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARγ). By modulating the activities of these receptors, CBD exhibits multiple therapeutic effects, including neuroprotective, antiepileptic, anxiolytic, antipsychotic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic and anticancer properties. CBD could also be applied to treat or prevent COVID-19 and its complications. Here, we provide a narrative review of CBD’s applications in human diseases: from mechanism of action to clinical trials.”

“The herbal use of Cannabis sativa plant extract (also known as cannabis, hemp or marijuana) can be tracked back to ancient China, around 2900 BC.  Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the most abundant extracts from C. sativa; it has multiple bioactivities and wide health benefits without psychoactive properties. In this review, we summarized the molecular mechanisms and clinical experience in support of CBD as a potential therapeutic compound for various diseases.”

Specific plant terpenoids and lignoids possess potent antiviral activities against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus

“In this study, 221 phytocompounds were evaluated for activity against anti-severe acute respiratory syndrome associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV) activities using a cell-based assay measuring SARS-CoV-induced cytopathogenic effect on Vero E6 cells. Ten diterpenoids (1-10), two sesquiterpenoids (11 and 12), two triterpenoids (13 and 14), five lignoids (15-19), curcumin (20), and reference controls niclosamide (21) and valinomycin (22) were potent inhibitors at concentrations between 3.3 and 10 microM. The concentrations of the 22 compounds to inhibit 50% of Vero E6 cell proliferation (CC50) and viral replication (EC50) were measured. The selective index values (SI = CC50/EC50) of the most potent compounds 1, 5, 6, 8, 14, and 16 were 58, >510, 111, 193, 180, and >667, respectively. Betulinic acid (13) and savinin (16) were competitive inhibitors of SARS-CoV 3CL protease with Ki values = 8.2 +/- 0.7 and 9.1 +/- 2.4 microM, respectively. Our findings suggest that specific abietane-type diterpenoids and lignoids exhibit strong anti-SARS-CoV effects.”

Anti-Inflammatory and Antiviral Effects of Cannabinoids in Inhibiting and Preventing SARS-CoV-2 Infection

“The COVID-19 pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus made it necessary to search for new options for both causal treatment and mitigation of its symptoms. Scientists and researchers around the world are constantly looking for the best therapeutic options. These difficult circumstances have also spurred the re-examination of the potential of natural substances contained in Cannabis sativa L. Cannabinoids, apart from CB1 and CB2 receptors, may act multifacetedly through a number of other receptors, such as the GPR55, TRPV1, PPARs, 5-HT1A, adenosine and glycine receptors. The complex anti-inflammatory and antiviral effects of cannabinoids have been confirmed by interactions with various signaling pathways. Considering the fact that the SARS-CoV-2 virus causes excessive immune response and triggers an inflammatory cascade, and that cannabinoids have the ability to regulate these processes, it can be assumed that they have potential to be used in the treatment of COVID-19. During the pandemic, there were many publications on the subject of COVID-19, which indicate the potential impact of cannabinoids not only on the course of the disease, but also their role in prevention. It is worth noting that the anti-inflammatory and antiviral potential are shown not only by well-known cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol (CBD), but also secondary cannabinoids, such as cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) and terpenes, emphasizing the role of all of the plant’s compounds and the entourage effect. This article presents a narrative review of the current knowledge in this area available in the PubMed, Scopus and Web of Science medical databases.”

Cannabinoids for SARS-CoV-2 and is there evidence of their therapeutic efficacy?

“To combat the coronaviruses and their novel variants, therapeutic drugs and the development of vaccines that are to be effective throughout human life are urgently needed. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) acts as a modulator in the activation of the microcirculation, immune system, and autonomic nervous system, along with controlling pharmacological functions such as emotional responses, homeostasis, motor functions, cognition, and motivation. The ECS contains endogenous cannabinoids, cannabinoid receptor (CBRs), and enzymes that regulate their biosynthesis, transport, and degradation. Moreover, phytocannabinoids and synthetic cannabinoids that mimic the action of endocannabinoids also play an essential role in the modulation of the ECS. Cannabinoids, the main constituents of cannabis (Cannabis sativa L.), are therapeutic compounds that have received international attention in the health field due to their therapeutic properties. Recently, they have been tested for the treatment of COVID-19 due to their antiviral properties. Indeed, cannabinoid-type compounds, and in particular cannabidiol (CBD), isolated from glandular trichomes found in the calyx of cannabis flowers with reported antiviral properties is hypothesized to be a therapeutic option in the ministration of SARS-CoV-2 consorted with COVID-19 disease. The relevant articles were determined from the database search published mainly in Web of Science, Google scholar, PubMed, Crossref, and database during the pandemic period. The articles were evaluated for the therapeutic potentials, mechanisms of action of cannabinoids, the roles of the ECS in the immune system, impact of cannabinoids in SARS-CoV-2 septic, especially if they address the application of cannabinoids as drugs for the curability and management of SARS-CoV-2 and its novel variants. Although the evidence needed to be considered using cannabinoids in the control and treatment of viral diseases is currently in its infancy, they already offer an opportunity for clinicians due to their effects in relieving pain, improving appetite, and improving childhood epilepsy, especially in cancer and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV/AIDS) patients. In addition to these, the most recent scientific evidence emphasizes their use in the treatment of the coronavirus infected patients. In brief, all preclinic and clinic studies that have been reported show that, through the cannabinoid system, cannabinoids, particularly CBD, have many mechanisms that are effective in the treatment of patients infected by SARS-CoV-2. Thus, more extensive studies are necessary in this area to fully identify the effects of cannabinoids on SARS-CoV-2.”