The impact of phyto- and endo-cannabinoids on central nervous system diseases:A review

Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine

“Background and aim: Cannabis sativa L. is a medicinal plant with a long history. Phyto-cannabinoids are a class of compounds from C. sativa L. with varieties of structures. Endocannabinoids exist in the human body. This article provides an overview of natural cannabinoids (phyto-cannabinoids and endocannabinoids) with an emphasis on their pharmacology activities.

Experimental procedure: The keywords “Cannabis sativa L″, “cannabinoids”, and “central nervous system (CNS) diseases” were used for searching and collecting pieces of literature from PubMed, ScienceDirect, Web of Science, and Google Scholar. The data were extracted and analyzed to explore the effects of cannabinoids on CNS diseases.

Result and conclusion: In this paper, schematic diagrams are used to intuitively show the phyto-cannabinoids skeletons’ mutual conversion and pharmacological activities, with special emphasis on their relevant pharmacological activities on central nervous system (CNS) diseases. It was found that the endocannabinoid system and microglia play a crucial role in the treatment of CNS diseases. In the past few years, pharmacological studies focused on Δ9-THC, CBD, and the endocannabinoids system. It is expected to encourage new studies on a more deep exploration of other types of cannabinoids and the mechanism of their pharmacological activities in the future.”

The Endocannabinoid System as a Target for Neuroprotection/Neuroregeneration in Perinatal Hypoxic-Ischemic Brain Injury


“The endocannabinoid (EC) system is a complex cell-signaling system that participates in a vast number of biological processes since the prenatal period, including the development of the nervous system, brain plasticity, and circuit repair. This neuromodulatory system is also involved in the response to endogenous and environmental insults, being of special relevance in the prevention and/or treatment of vascular disorders, such as stroke and neuroprotection after neonatal brain injury. Perinatal hypoxia-ischemia leading to neonatal encephalopathy is a devastating condition with no therapeutic approach apart from moderate hypothermia, which is effective only in some cases. This overview, therefore, gives a current description of the main components of the EC system (including cannabinoid receptors, ligands, and related enzymes), to later analyze the EC system as a target for neonatal neuroprotection with a special focus on its neurogenic potential after hypoxic-ischemic brain injury.”

“The ubiquitous lipid signaling-based EC system is involved in outstanding regulatory functions throughout the human body, including neural development under physiological conditions and neuroprotection, and repair after pathophysiological processes.In the context of neonatal brain injury, the administration of endogenous or exogenous CBs, or the blockage of EC degradation, has revealed a strong neuroprotective response in different preclinical models after HI. Similarly, the possibility of tissue repair in the developing brain by enhancing the proliferative potential of the SVZ and SGZ neurogenic niches is currently under active investigation. Selective modulation of the EC system in the sites of damage by targeting the enzymes responsible for EC degradation may represent an important therapeutic approach in order to avoid non-desired widespread effects.Despite the clinical use of CB-related drugs that must be taken with caution, the modulation of the EC system to ameliorate the neurological consequences after neonatal HI is currently an exciting field of research with enormous possibilities for clinical translation.”

Efficacy and Safety of Medical Marijuana in Migraine Headache: A Systematic Review

“Medical marijuana treatment for migraine is becoming more common, although the legality and societal acceptance of marijuana for medical purposes in the United States have been challenged by the stigma attached to it as a recreational drug.

These substances function to reduce nociception and decrease the frequency of migraine by having an impact on the endocannabinoid system.

Our study reviewed the clinical response, dosing, and side effects of marijuana in migraine management. Using Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines, we conducted a literature search in PubMed, Google Scholar, and Science Direct, and nine studies were included in the systematic review.

The studies demonstrated that medical marijuana has a significant clinical response by reducing the length and frequency of migraines. No severe adverse effects were noted. Due to its effectiveness and convenience, medical marijuana therapy may be helpful for patients suffering from migraines. However, additional clinical trials and observational studies with longer follow-ups are required to study the efficacy and safety of the drug.”

“The main objective of this article is to assess the efficacy and safety of medical marijuana for the treatment of migraine headaches. All the studies showed encouraging findings on the therapeutic effects of medicinal marijuana in migraine treatment. Additionally, medical marijuana is well-tolerated with fewer side effects and is safe to use in migraine patients.”

Role of the endocannabinoid system in fragile X syndrome: potential mechanisms for benefit from cannabidiol treatment

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“Multiple lines of evidence suggest a central role for the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the neuronal development and cognitive function and in the pathogenesis of fragile X syndrome (FXS). This review describes the ECS, its role in the central nervous system, how it is dysregulated in FXS, and the potential role of cannabidiol as a treatment for FXS. FXS is caused by deficiency or absence of the fragile X messenger ribonucleoprotein 1 (FMR1) protein, FMRP, typically due to the presence of >200 cytosine, guanine, guanine sequence repeats leading to methylation of the FMR1 gene promoter. The absence of FMRP, following FMR1 gene-silencing, disrupts ECS signaling, which has been implicated in FXS pathogenesis. The ECS facilitates synaptic homeostasis and plasticity through the cannabinoid receptor 1, CB1, on presynaptic terminals, resulting in feedback inhibition of neuronal signaling. ECS-mediated feedback inhibition and synaptic plasticity are thought to be disrupted in FXS, leading to overstimulation, desensitization, and internalization of presynaptic CB1 receptors. Cannabidiol may help restore synaptic homeostasis by acting as a negative allosteric modulator of CB1, thereby attenuating the receptor overstimulation, desensitization, and internalization. Moreover, cannabidiol affects DNA methylation, serotonin 5HT1A signal transduction, gamma-aminobutyric acid receptor signaling, and dopamine D2 and D3 receptor signaling, which may contribute to beneficial effects in patients with FXS. Consistent with these proposed mechanisms of action of cannabidiol in FXS, in the CONNECT-FX trial the transdermal cannabidiol gel, ZYN002, was associated with improvements in measures of social avoidance, irritability, and social interaction, particularly in patients who are most affected, showing ≥90% methylation of the FMR1 gene.”

“FXS is caused by deficiency or absence of FMRP, typically due to the presence of >200 CGG repeats and methylation in the promoter region of the FMR1 gene. The absence of FMRP downregulates the ECS signaling, which has been implicated in FXS pathogenesis. Synaptic homeostasis and plasticity may be regulated by the ECS through the postsynaptic “on demand” production of endocannabinoids, which then bind to CB1 receptors on presynaptic terminals, resulting in regulation of glutamate signaling and GABAergic signaling. The ECS-mediated feedback inhibition and synaptic plasticity are thought to be disrupted in FXS due to dysregulation of enzymes that are integral to the ECS (e.g., DAGL), leading to overstimulation, desensitization, and internalization of presynaptic CB1 receptors.

Cannabidiol may help restore synaptic homeostasis by acting as a negative allosteric modulator of CB1, thereby attenuating CB1 receptor overstimulation, internalization, and desensitization. Moreover, cannabidiol has effects on DNA methylation, 5HT1A signal transduction, GABAA receptor signaling, and dopamine D2 and D3 receptor signaling, which may contribute to beneficial effects in patients with FXS. Consistent with these proposed mechanisms of action of cannabidiol in FXS, the transdermal cannabidiol gel, ZYN002, was associated with improvements in measures of social avoidance, irritability, and social interaction in the CONNECT-FX trial, particularly among patients with ≥90% methylation of the FMR1 gene.”

Cannabis Bioactive Compound-Based Formulations: New Perspectives for the Management of Orofacial Pain


“The management of orofacial pain to alleviate the quality of life of affected patients is becoming increasingly challenging for scientific research and healthcare professionals. From this perspective, in addition to conventional therapies, new alternatives are being sought, increasingly looking at the use of both natural and synthetic products.

Cannabis sativa L. represents an interesting source of bioactive compounds, including non-psychoactive cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes, many of which are effective in improving pain intensity.

Here, we aim to analyze the possible mechanisms of action of the bioactive natural and synthetic hemp-derived compounds responsible for the modulatory effects on pain-related pathways. The ability of these compounds to act on multiple mechanisms through a synergistic effect, reducing both the release of inflammatory mediators and regulating the response of the endocannabinoid system, makes them interesting agents for alternative formulations to be used in orofacial pain.”

Low-Dose Administration of Cannabigerol Attenuates Inflammation and Fibrosis Associated with Methionine/Choline Deficient Diet-Induced NASH Model via Modulation of Cannabinoid Receptor


“Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH) is the progressive form of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD). NASH is distinguished by severe hepatic fibrosis and inflammation. The plant-derived, non-psychotropic compound cannabigerol (CBG) has potential anti-inflammatory effects similar to other cannabinoids. However, the impact of CBG on NASH pathology is still unknown. This study demonstrated the therapeutic potential of CBG in reducing hepatic steatosis, fibrosis, and inflammation.

Methods: 8-week-old C57BL/6 male mice were fed with methionine/choline deficient (MCD) diet or control (CTR) diets for five weeks. At the beginning of week 4, mice were divided into three sub-groups and injected with either a vehicle, a low or high dose of CBG for two weeks. Overall health of the mice, Hepatic steatosis, fibrosis, and inflammation were evaluated.

Results: Increased liver-to-body weight ratio was observed in mice fed with MCD diet, while a low dose of CBG treatment rescued the liver-to-body weight ratio. Hepatic ballooning and leukocyte infiltration were decreased in MCD mice with a low dose of CBG treatment, whereas the CBG treatment did not change the hepatic steatosis. The high dose CBG administration increased inflammation and fibrosis. Similarly, the expression of cannabinoid receptor (CB)1 and CB2 showed decreased expression with the low CBG dose but not with the high CBG dose intervention in the MCD group and were co-localized with mast cells. Additionally, the decreased mast cells were accompanied by decreased expression of transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1.

Conclusions: Collectively, the low dose of CBG alleviated hepatic fibrosis and inflammation in MCD-induced NASH, however, the high dose of CBG treatment showed enhanced liver damage when compared to MCD only group. These results will provide pre-clinical data to guide future intervention studies in humans addressing the potential uses of CBG for inflammatory liver pathologies, as well as open the door for further investigation into systemic inflammatory pathologies.”

“In conclusion, this study provides initial findings and a foundation for future studies on the efficacy of CBG on NASH.”

Blockade of CB1 or Activation of CB2 Cannabinoid Receptors Is Differentially Efficacious in the Treatment of the Early Pathological Events in Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetic Rats


“Oxidative stress, neurodegeneration, neuroinflammation, and vascular leakage are believed to play a key role in the early stage of diabetic retinopathy (ESDR). The aim of this study was to investigate the blockade of cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1R) and activation of cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2R) as putative therapeutics for the treatment of the early toxic events in DR. Diabetic rats [streptozotocin (STZ)-induced] were treated topically (20 μL, 10 mg/mL), once daily for fourteen days (early stage DR model), with SR141716 (CB1R antagonist), AM1710 (CB2R agonist), and the dual treatment SR141716/AM1710. Immunohistochemical-histological, ELISA, and Evans-Blue analyses were performed to assess the neuroprotective and vasculoprotective properties of the pharmacological treatments on diabetes-induced retinal toxicity. Activation of CB2R or blockade of CB1R, as well as the dual treatment, attenuated the nitrative stress induced by diabetes. Both single treatments protected neural elements (e.g., RGC axons) and reduced vascular leakage. AM1710 alone reversed all toxic insults. These findings provide new knowledge regarding the differential efficacies of the cannabinoids, when administered topically, in the treatment of ESDR. Cannabinoid neuroprotection of the diabetic retina in ESDR may prove therapeutic in delaying the development of the advanced stage of the disease.”

“In closing, our findings suggest that topical administration of the three cannabinoid treatments, such as eye drops, provides protection to the diabetic retina in a differential manner against the four pathologies of ESDR. The actions of both CB2R activation and CB1R blockade in restoring ganglion cell axons (NFL-IR) in ESDR suggest that both agents may be effective in retarding RGC death. AM1710 is efficacious as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective and vasculoprotective agent and, thus, a promising new therapeutic for ESDR. Further advancement of retinal imaging to screen and identify the early events in DR, such as neurodegeneration in diabetic patients, is crucial for selecting neuroprotective drugs and implementing personalized treatments. As our findings clearly implicate the endocannabinoid system, the therapeutic benefits of this class of compounds should also extend to patients with diabetic nephropathy and cardiopathy/stroke since DR has been associated with the development of these diseases.”

Potential effects of cannabinoids on audiovestibular function: A narrative review

Frontiers - Crunchbase Company Profile & Funding

“The growing interest in the development of drugs that target the endocannabinoid system has extended to conditions that affect the audiovestibular pathway. The expression of cannabinoid (CB) receptors in that pathway has been widely demonstrated, indicating a therapeutic potential for drug development at this level. These medications may be beneficial for conditions such as noise-induced hearing loss, ototoxicity, or various forms of vertigo of central or peripheral origin. The therapeutic targets of interest include natural or synthetic compounds that act as CB1/CB2 receptor agonists/antagonists, and inhibitors of the endocannabinoid-degrading enzymes FAAH and MAGL. Furthermore, genetic variations implicated in the response to treatment and the development of related disorders such as epilepsy or migraine have been identified. Direct methods of administering these medications should be examined beyond the systemic strategy.”

The function of the endocannabinoid system in the pancreatic islet and its implications on metabolic syndrome and diabetes

Publication Cover

“The following review focuses on the scientific studies related to the role of endocannabinoid system (ECS) in pancreatic islet physiology and dysfunction. Different natural or synthetic agonists and antagonists have been suggested as an alternative treatment for diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome. Therapeutic use of Cannabis led to the discovery and characterization of the ECS, a signaling complex involved in regulation of various physiological processes, including food intake and metabolism. After the development of different agonists and antagonists, evidence have demonstrated the presence and activity of cannabinoid receptors in several organs and tissues, including pancreatic islets. Insulin and glucagon expression, stimulated secretion, and the development of diabetes and other metabolic disorders have been associated with the activity and modulation of ECS in pancreatic islets. However, according to the animal model and experimental design, either endogenous or pharmacological ligands of cannabinoid receptors have guided to contradictory and paradoxical results that suggest a complex physiological interaction. In consensus, ECS activity modulates insulin and glucagon secretions according to glucose in media; over-stimulation of cannabinoid receptors affects islets negatively, leading to glucose intolerance, meanwhile the treatment with antagonists in diabetic models and humans suggests an improvement in islets function.”

A zebrafish HCT116 xenograft model to predict anandamide outcomes on colorectal cancer

Cell Death & Disease

“Colon cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. In recent years, cannabinoids have been extensively studied for their potential anticancer effects and symptom management. Several in vitro studies reported anandamide’s (AEA) ability to block cancer cell proliferation and migration, but evidence from in vivo studies is still lacking. Thus, in this study, the effects of AEA exposure in zebrafish embryos transplanted with HCT116 cells were evaluated.

Totally, 48 hpf xenografts were exposed to 10 nM AEA, 10 nM AM251, one of the cannabinoid 1 receptor (CB1) antagonist/inverse agonists, and to AEA + AM251, to verify the specific effect of AEA treatment. AEA efficacy was evaluated by confocal microscopy, which demonstrated that these xenografts presented a smaller tumor size, reduced tumor angiogenesis, and lacked micrometastasis formation.

To gain deeper evidence into AEA action, microscopic observations were completed by molecular analyses. RNA seq performed on zebrafish transcriptome reported the downregulation of genes involved in cell proliferation, angiogenesis, and the immune system. Conversely, HCT116 cell transcripts resulted not affected by AEA treatment. In vitro HCT116 culture, in fact, confirmed that AEA exposure did not affect cell proliferation and viability, thus suggesting that the reduced tumor size mainly depends on direct effects on the fish rather than on the transplanted cancer cells.

AEA reduced cell proliferation and tumor angiogenesis, as suggested by socs3 and pcnp mRNAs and Vegfc protein levels, and exerted anti-inflammatory activity, as indicated by the reduction of il-11a, mhc1uba, and csf3b mRNA. Of note, are the results obtained in groups exposed to AM251, which presence nullifies AEA’s beneficial effects.

In conclusion, this study promotes the efficacy of AEA in personalized cancer therapy, as suggested by its ability to drive tumor growth and metastasis, and strongly supports the use of zebrafish xenograft as an emerging model platform for cancer studies.”

“Collectively, our data suggest a pivotal role of AEA in the anti-angiogenic, anti-proliferative, and anti-inflammatory process in intercellular tumor-endothelial cell communication resulting in the containment of tumor and evidenced that zebrafish larvae xenografts constitute a promising fast assay for precision medicine, bridging the gap between genotype and phenotype in an in vivo setting.”