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

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Cannabigerolic acid, a major biosynthetic precursor molecule in cannabis, exhibits divergent effects on seizures in mouse models of epilepsy

British Journal of Pharmacology“Background and purpose: Cannabis has been used to treat epilepsy for millennia, with such use validated by regulatory approval of cannabidiol (CBD) for the treatment of Dravet syndrome. Unregulated artisanal cannabis-based products used to treat children with intractable epilepsies often contain relatively low doses of CBD but are enriched in other phytocannabinoids. This raises the possibility that other cannabis constituents might have anticonvulsant properties.

Experimental approach: We used the Scn1a+/- mouse model of Dravet syndrome to interrogate the cannabis plant for phytocannabinoids with anticonvulsant effects against hyperthermia-induced seizures. The most promising, cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), was further examined against spontaneous seizures and survival in Scn1a+/- mice. CBGA was also examined in conventional electroshock seizure models. In addition, we surveyed the pharmacological effects of CBGA across multiple drug targets.

Key results: The initial screen identified three phytocannabinoids with novel anticonvulsant properties: CBGA, cannabidivarinic acid (CBDVA) and cannabigerovarinic acid (CBGVA). CBGA was the most potent and potentiated the anticonvulsant effects of clobazam against hyperthermia-induced and spontaneous seizures, and was anticonvulsant in the MES threshold test. However, CBGA was proconvulsant in the 6-Hz threshold test and a high dose increased spontaneous seizure frequency in Scn1a+/- mice. CBGA was found to interact with numerous epilepsy-relevant targets including GPR55, TRPV1 channels and GABAA receptors.

Conclusion: These results suggest CBGA, CBDVA and CBGVA may contribute to the effects of cannabis-based products in childhood epilepsy. While these phytocannabinoids have anticonvulsant potential and could be lead compounds for drug development programs, several liabilities would need to be overcome before CBD is superseded by another in this class.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34384142/

https://bpspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bph.15661

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Add-on cannabidiol in patients with Dravet syndrome: Results of a long-term open-label extension trial

“Objective: Add-on cannabidiol (CBD) reduced seizures associated with Dravet syndrome (DS) in two randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials: GWPCARE1 Part B (NCT02091375) and GWPCARE2 (NCT02224703). Patients who completed GWPCARE1 Part A (NCT02091206) or Part B, or GWPCARE2, were enrolled in a long-term open-label extension trial, GWPCARE5 (NCT02224573). We present an interim analysis of the safety, efficacy, and patient-reported outcomes from GWPCARE5.

Methods: Patients received a pharmaceutical formulation of highly purified CBD in oral solution (100 mg/ml), titrated from 2.5 to 20 mg/kg/day over a 2-week period, added to their existing medications. Based on response and tolerance, CBD could be reduced or increased to 30 mg/kg/day.

Results: Of the 330 patients who completed the original randomized trials, 315 (95%) enrolled in this open-label extension. Median treatment duration was 444 days (range = 18-1535), with a mean modal dose of 22 mg/kg/day; patients received a median of three concomitant antiseizure medications. Adverse events (AEs) occurred in 97% patients (mild, 23%; moderate, 50%; severe, 25%). Commonly reported AEs were diarrhea (43%), pyrexia (39%), decreased appetite (31%), and somnolence (28%). Twenty-eight (9%) patients discontinued due to AEs. Sixty-nine (22%) patients had liver transaminase elevations >3 × upper limit of normal; 84% were on concomitant valproic acid. In patients from GWPCARE1 Part B and GWPCARE2, the median reduction from baseline in monthly seizure frequency assessed in 12-week periods up to Week 156 was 45%-74% for convulsive seizures and 49%-84% for total seizures. Across all visit windows, ≥83% patients/caregivers completing a Subject/Caregiver Global Impression of Change scale reported improvement in overall condition.

Significance: We show that long-term CBD treatment had an acceptable safety profile and led to sustained, clinically meaningful reductions in seizure frequency in patients with treatment-resistant DS.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34406656/

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/epi.17036

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Cannabis sativa L. as a Natural Drug Meeting the Criteria of a Multitarget Approach to Treatment

ijms-logo“Cannabis sativa L. turned out to be a valuable source of chemical compounds of various structures, showing pharmacological activity. The most important groups of compounds include phytocannabinoids and terpenes.

The pharmacological activity of Cannabis (in epilepsy, sclerosis multiplex (SM), vomiting and nausea, pain, appetite loss, inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs), Parkinson’s disease, Tourette’s syndrome, schizophrenia, glaucoma, and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)), which has been proven so far, results from the affinity of these compounds predominantly for the receptors of the endocannabinoid system (the cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1), type two (CB2), and the G protein-coupled receptor 55 (GPR55)) but, also, for peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR), glycine receptors, serotonin receptors (5-HT), transient receptor potential channels (TRP), and GPR, opioid receptors.

The synergism of action of phytochemicals present in Cannabis sp. raw material is also expressed in their increased bioavailability and penetration through the blood-brain barrier. This review provides an overview of phytochemistry and pharmacology of compounds present in Cannabis extracts in the context of the current knowledge about their synergistic actions and the implications of clinical use in the treatment of selected diseases.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33466734/

https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/22/2/778

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Constituents of Cannabis Sativa

“The Cannabis sativa plant has been used medicinally and recreationally for thousands of years, but recently only relatively some of its constituents have been identified.

There are more than 550 chemical compounds in cannabis, with more than 100 phytocannabinoids being identified, including Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

These phytocannabinoids work by binding to the cannabinoid receptors, as well as other receptor systems. Also within cannabis are the aromatic terpenes, more than 100 of which have been identified.

Cannabis and its constituents have been indicated as therapeutic compounds in numerous medical conditions, such as pain, anxiety, epilepsy, nausea and vomiting, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

This chapter provides an overview of some of the biological effects of a number of the cannabinoids and terpenes, as well as discussing their known mechanisms of action and evidence of potential therapeutic effects.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33332000/

https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-3-030-57369-0_1

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Antiseizure effects of the cannabinoids in the amygdala-kindling model

“Objective: Focal impaired awareness seizures (FIASs) are the most common seizure type in adults and are often refractory to medication. Management of FIASs is clinically challenging, and new interventions are needed for better seizure control. The amygdala-kindling model is a preclinical model of FIASs with secondary generalization.

The present study assessed the efficacy of cannabidiol (CBD), ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and a combination of CBD and THC in a 15:1 ratio at suppressing focal and secondarily generalized seizures in the amygdala-kindled rat.

Results: CBD alone produced a partial suppression of both generalized seizures (median effective dose [ED50 ] = 283 mg/kg) and focal seizures (ED40 = 320 mg/kg) at doses that did not produce ataxia. THC alone also produced partial suppression of generalized (ED50 = 10 mg/kg) and focal (ED50 = 30 mg/kg) seizures, but doses of 10 mg/kg and above produced hypolocomotion, although not ataxia. The addition of a low dose of THC to CBD (15:1) left-shifted the CBD dose-response curve, producing much lower ED50 s for both generalized (ED50 = 26 + 1.73 mg/kg) and focal (ED50 = 40 + 2.66 mg/kg) seizures. No ataxia or hypolocomotion was seen at these doses of the CBD + THC combination.

Significance: CBD and THC both have antiseizure properties in the amygdala-kindling model, although THC produces suppression of the amygdala focus only at doses that produce hypolocomotion. The addition of small amounts of THC greatly improves the effectiveness of CBD. A combination of CBD and THC might be useful for the management of FIASs.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34251027/

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/epi.16973

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Use and caregiver-reported efficacy of medical cannabis in children and adolescents in Switzerland

SpringerLink“Evidence on the use and efficacy of medical cannabis for children is limited. We examined clinical and epidemiological characteristics of medical cannabis treatment and caregiver-reported effects in children and adolescents in Switzerland.

We collected clinical data from children and adolescents (< 18 years) who received Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), or a combination of the two between 2008 and 2019 in Switzerland. Out of 205 contacted families, 90 agreed to participate. The median age at the first prescription was 11.5 years (interquartile range (IQR) 6-16), and 32 patients were female (36%). Fifty-one (57%) patients received CBD only and 39 (43%) THC. Patients were more likely to receive THC therapy if one of the following symptoms or signs were present: spasticity, pain, lack of weight gain, vomiting, or nausea, whereas seizures were the dominant indication for CBD therapy.

Improvements were reported in 59 (66%) study participants.

The largest treatment effects were reported for pain, spasticity, and frequency of seizures in participants treated with THC, and for those treated with pure CBD, the frequency of seizures. However, 43% of caregivers reported treatment interruptions, mainly because of lack of improvement (56%), side effects (46%), the need for a gastric tube (44%), and cost considerations (23%).

Conclusions: The effects of medical cannabis in children and adolescents with chronic conditions are unknown except for rare seizure disorders, but the caregiver-reported data analysed here may justify trials of medical cannabis with standardized concentrations of THC or CBD to assess its efficacy in the young.

What is Known: • The use of medical cannabis (THC and CBD) to treat a variety of diseases among children and adolescents is increasing. • In contrast to adults, there is no evidence to support the use of medical cannabis to treat chronic pain and spasticity in children, but substantial evidence to support the use of CBD in children with rare seizure disorders.

What is New: • This study provides important insights into prescription practices, dosages, and treatment outcomes in children and adolescents using medical cannabis data from a real-life setting.

• The effects of medical cannabis in children and adolescents with chronic conditions shown in our study support trials of medical cannabis for chronic conditions.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34309706/

“For two thirds of participants treated with standardized THC or CBD preparations, the caregiver reported an improvement in their condition and well-being. Medical cannabis could be a promising and useful therapy for children and adolescents with neurological conditions.”

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00431-021-04202-z

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Cannabidiol in Neurological and Neoplastic Diseases: Latest Developments on the Molecular Mechanism of Action

ijms-logo“As the major nonpsychotropic constituent of Cannabis sativa, cannabidiol (CBD) is regarded as one of the most promising therapeutic agents due to its proven effectiveness in clinical trials for many human diseases. Due to the urgent need for more efficient pharmacological treatments for several chronic diseases, in this review, we discuss the potential beneficial effects of CBD for Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and neurological cancers. Due to its wide range of pharmacological activities (e.g., antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties), CBD is considered a multimodal drug for the treatment of a range of neurodegenerative disorders, and various cancer types, including neoplasms of the neural system. The different mechanisms of action of CBD are here disclosed, together with recent progress in the use of this cannabis-derived constituent as a new therapeutic approach.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33919010/

https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/22/9/4294

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Molecular Targets of Cannabidiol in Experimental Models of Neurological Disease

molecules-logo“Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid known for its beneficial effects including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Moreover, CBD is a compound with antidepressant, anxiolytic, anticonvulsant and antipsychotic effects. Thanks to all these properties, the interest of the scientific community for it has grown.

Indeed, CBD is a great candidate for the management of neurological diseases. The purpose of our review is to summarize the in vitro and in vivo studies published in the last 15 years that describe the biochemical and molecular mechanisms underlying the effects of CBD and its therapeutic application in neurological diseases.

CBD exerts its neuroprotective effects through three G protein coupled-receptors (adenosine receptor subtype 2A, serotonin receptor subtype 1A and G protein-coupled receptor 55), one ligand-gated ion channel (transient receptor potential vanilloid channel-1) and one nuclear factor (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ). Moreover, the therapeutical properties of CBD are also due to GABAergic modulation.

In conclusion, CBD, through multi-target mechanisms, represents a valid therapeutic tool for the management of epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33171772/

https://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/25/21/5186

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Effect of Cannabinoids on Electroencephalography of a Child with Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome

“Cannabinoids have been found to be effective in controlling seizures and the highly purified form of cannabinoid derived for Cannabis sativa . Cannabidiol (CBD) is now approved for Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) and Dravet syndrome. CBD was used in a 9-year-old boy with LGS (unknown etiology) with very good results. The electroencephalography (EEG) response was very dramatic with near normalization of EEG background and complete control of seizures. The effect of CBD on EEG with such an improvement has not been described previously. Also, this adds to evidence that early intervention in LGS with CBD might be more helpful and improve outcomes.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33144805/

https://www.thieme-connect.de/products/ejournals/abstract/10.1055/s-0040-1714329

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