Effects of CBD-Enriched Cannabis sativa Extract on Autism Spectrum Disorder Symptoms: An Observational Study of 18 Participants Undergoing Compassionate Use.

Image result for frontiers in neurology“Autism Spectrum Disorders comprise conditions that may affect cognitive development, motor skills, social interaction, communication, and behavior. This set of functional deficits often results in lack of independence for the diagnosed individuals, and severe distress for patients, families, and caregivers.

There is a mounting body of evidence indicating the effectiveness of pure cannabidiol (CBD) and CBD-enriched Cannabis sativa extract (CE) for the treatment of autistic symptoms in refractory epilepsy patients. There is also increasing data support for the hypothesis that non-epileptic autism shares underlying etiological mechanisms with epilepsy.

Here we report an observational study with a cohort of 18 autistic patients undergoing treatment with compassionate use of standardized CBD-enriched CE (with a CBD to THC ratio of 75/1).

Among the 15 patients who adhered to the treatment (10 non-epileptic and five epileptic) only one patient showed lack of improvement in autistic symptoms. Due to adverse effects, three patients discontinued CE use before 1 month.

After 6-9 months of treatment, most patients, including epileptic and non-epileptic, showed some level of improvement in more than one of the eight symptom categories evaluated: Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder; Behavioral Disorders; Motor Deficits; Autonomy Deficits; Communication and Social Interaction Deficits; Cognitive Deficits; Sleep Disorders and Seizures, with very infrequent and mild adverse effects.

The strongest improvements were reported for Seizures, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Sleep Disorders, and Communication and Social Interaction Deficits. This was especially true for the 10 non-epileptic patients, nine of which presented improvement equal to or above 30% in at least one of the eight categories, six presented improvement of 30% or more in at least two categories and four presented improvement equal to or above 30% in at least four symptom categories.

Ten out of the 15 patients were using other medicines, and nine of these were able to keep the improvements even after reducing or withdrawing other medications.

The results reported here are very promising and indicate that CBD-enriched CE may ameliorate multiple ASD symptoms even in non-epileptic patients, with substantial increase in life quality for both ASD patients and caretakers.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31736860

“The findings presented here, taken together, support the notion that many autism symptoms are associated to neuronal hyperexcitability, and indicate that CBD-enriched CE yields positive effects in multiple autistic symptoms, without causing the typical side effects found in medicated ASD patients. Most patients in this study had improved symptoms even after supervised weaning of other neuropsychiatric drugs.”

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fneur.2019.01145/full

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A phase 1/2, open-label assessment of the safety, tolerability, and efficacy of transdermal cannabidiol (ZYN002) for the treatment of pediatric fragile X syndrome.

 

Image result for journal of neurodevelopmental disorders“Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is characterized by a range of developmental, neuropsychiatric, and behavioral symptoms that cause significant impairment in those with the disorder.

Cannabidiol (CBD) holds promise as a potential treatment for FXS symptoms due to its safety profile and positive effects on a number of emotional and behavioral symptoms associated with FXS.

The aim of the current study was to evaluate the safety, tolerability, and initial efficacy of ZYN002, a transdermal CBD gel, in a pediatric population with FXS.

RESULTS:

The majority of treatment-emergent AEs (reported by 85% of participants) were mild in severity (70%), and no serious adverse events were reported. There was a statistically significant reduction in ADAMS total score from screening to week 12 and significant reductions on nearly all other secondary endpoints, including all ADAMS subscales (except depressed mood), all ABC-CFXS subscale scores (e.g., social avoidance, irritability), PARS-R total severity score, and PedsQL total score.

CONCLUSIONS:

ZYN002 was well tolerated and produced clinically meaningful reductions in anxiety and behavioral symptoms in children and adolescents with FXS. These findings support further study of ZYN002 in a randomized, well-controlled trial for the treatment of behavioral symptoms of FXS.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31370779

https://jneurodevdisorders.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s11689-019-9277-x

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Cannabidiol (CBD) reduces anxiety-related behavior in mice via an FMRP1-independent mechanism.

Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior

“Fragile X Syndrome is a neurodevelopmental disorder which affects intellectual, social and physical development due to mutation of the Fragile X mental retardation 1 (FMR1) gene. The resultant loss of Fragile X mental retardation protein can be modelled by Fmr1 gene knockout (KO) in mice.

The current study investigated the behavioural effects of cannabidiol (CBD; a non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid) in male Fmr1 KO mice as a preclinical model for therapeutic discovery.

Overall, acute CBD at the doses chosen did not selectively normalize behavioural abnormalities in Fmr1 KO mice, but reduced anxiety-like behaviour in both Fmr1 KO and WT mice.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31063743

“Acute cannabidiol (CBD) decreased anxiety-related behaviours in both Fmr1 knockout mice and wildtype controls in the elevated plus maze. Fmr1 KO mice were hyperlocomotive, showed fewer anxiety-related behaviours and habituated more slowly to a novel environment than controls. Acute CBD had no impact on locomotion, spatial working memory or fear-associated memory in Fmr1 knockout mice or controls.”   https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091305718306464?via%3Dihub

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Treatment of Fragile X Syndrome with Cannabidiol: A Case Series Study and Brief Review of the Literature.

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“Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is an X-linked dominant disorder caused by a mutation in the fragile X mental retardation 1 gene.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is an exogenous phytocannabinoid with therapeutic potential for individuals with anxiety, poor sleep, and cognitive deficits, as well as populations with endocannabinoid deficiencies, such as those who suffer from FXS.

The objective of this study was to provide a brief narrative review of recent literature on endocannabinoids and FXS and to present a case series describing three patients with FXS who were treated with oral CBD-enriched (CBD+) solutions.

We review recent animal and human studies of endocannabinoids in FXS and present the cases of one child and two adults with FXS who were treated with various oral botanical CBD+ solutions delivering doses of 32.0 to 63.9 mg daily. Multiple experimental and clinical models of FXS combine to highlight the therapeutic potential of CBD for management of FXS.

All three patients described in the case series exhibited functional benefit following the use of oral CBD+ solutions, including noticeable reductions in social avoidance and anxiety, as well as improvements in sleep, feeding, motor coordination, language skills, anxiety, and sensory processing. Two of the described patients exhibited a reemergence of a number of FXS symptoms following cessation of CBD+ treatment (e.g., anxiety), which then improved again after reintroduction of CBD+ treatment. Findings highlight the importance of exploring the therapeutic potential of CBD within the context of rigorous clinical trials.”

“The present findings, coupled with the available preclinical data, highlight the potential for CBD as an intervention for individuals with FXS. The existing literature combines to demonstrate that CBD may positively impact individuals with FXS through many mechanisms, including the endocannabinoid system, GABA, and serotonin. While a number of drugs have been developed to target specific systems (e.g., GABA agonists), CBD has the potential to yield a multifaceted benefit to individuals with FXS due to its multiple mechanisms of action.”
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Perspectives on the Role of Endocannabinoids in Autism Spectrum Disorders.

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“Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are diagnosed on the basis of three behavioral features, namely, (1) deficits in social communication, (2) absence or delay in language and (3) stereotypy. The consensus regarding the neurological pathogenesis of ASDs is aberrant synaptogenesis and synapse function. Further, it is now widely accepted that ASD is neurodevelopmental in nature, placing emphasis on derangements occurring at the level of intra- and intercellular signaling during corticogenesis. At present, there is an ever-growing list of mutations in putative susceptibility genes in affected individuals, preventing effective transformation of knowledge gathered from basic science research to the clinic. In response, the focus of ASD biology has shifted toward the identification of cellular signaling pathways that are common to various ASD-related mutations in hopes that these shared pathways may serve as more promising treatment targets than targeting individual genes or proteins. To this end, the endogenous cannabinoid (endocannabinoid, eCB) system has recently emerged as a promising therapeutic target in the field of ASD research. The eCB system is altered in several neurological disorders, but the role of these bioactive lipids in ASD etiology remains poorly understood. In this perspective, we review current evidence linking eCB signaling to ASDs and put forth the notion that continued focus on eCBs in autism research may provide valuable insight into pathophysiology and treatment strategies. In addition to its role in modulating transmitter release at mature synapses, the eCB signaling system plays important roles in many aspects of cortical development, and disruption of these effects of eCBs may also be related to ASD pathophysiology.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30854511

“Advances in our understanding of eCB actions will undoubtedly facilitate pharmacological interventions and further, provide patients the best quality of life possible.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6407886/

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Lower circulating endocannabinoid levels in children with autism spectrum disorder.

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“The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a major regulator of synaptic plasticity and neuromodulation. Alterations of the ECS have been demonstrated in several animal models of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In some of these models, activating the ECS rescued the social deficits. Evidence for dysregulations of the ECS in human ASD are emerging, but comprehensive assessments and correlations with disease characteristics have not been reported yet.

METHODS:

Serum levels of the main endocannabinoids, N-arachidonoylethanolamine (AEA or anandamide) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), and their related endogenous compounds, arachidonic acid (AA), N-palmitoylethanolamine (PEA), and N-oleoylethanolamine (OEA), were analyzed by liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry in 93 children with ASD (age = 13.1 ± 4.1, range 6-21; 79% boys) and 93 age- and gender-matched neurotypical children (age = 11.8 ± 4.3, range 5.5-21; 79% boys). Results were associated with gender and use of medications, and were correlated with age, BMI, and adaptive functioning of ASD participants as reflected by scores of Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS-2), Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale-II (VABS-II), and Social Responsiveness Scale-II (SRS-2).

RESULTS:

Children with ASD had lower levels (pmol/mL, mean ± SEM) of AEA (0.722 ± 0.045 vs. 1.252 ± 0.072, P < 0.0001, effect size 0.91), OEA (17.3 ± 0.80 vs. 27.8 ± 1.44, P < 0.0001, effect size 0.94), and PEA (4.93 ± 0.32 vs. 7.15 ± 0.37, P < 0.0001, effect size 0.65), but not AA and 2-AG. Serum levels of AEA, OEA, and PEA were not significantly associated or correlated with age, gender, BMI, medications, and adaptive functioning of ASD participants. In children with ASD, but not in the control group, younger age and lower BMI tended to correlate with lower AEA levels. However, these correlations were not statistically significant after a correction for multiple comparisons.

CONCLUSIONS:

We found lower serum levels of AEA, PEA, and OEA in children with ASD. Further studies are needed to determine whether circulating endocannabinoid levels can be used as stratification biomarkers that identify clinically significant subgroups within the autism spectrum and if they reflect lower endocannabinoid “tone” in the brain, as found in animal models of ASD.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30728928

https://molecularautism.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13229-019-0256-6

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Palmitoylethanolamide as adjunctive therapy for autism: Efficacy and safety results from a randomized controlled trial.

 Journal of Psychiatric Research Home

“Inflammation as well as glutamate excitotoxicity have been proposed to participate in the propagation of autism. Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) is an endocannabinoid proven to prevent glutamatergic toxicity and inhibit inflammatory responses simultaneously.

The present randomized, parallel group, double-blind placebo-controlled trial is the first study depicted to probe the efficacy of co-treatment with risperidone and PEA over 10 weeks in children with autism.

Seventy children (aged 4-12 years) with autism and moderate to severe symptoms of irritability were randomly assigned to two treatment regimens. The study outcomes were measured using the Aberrant Behavior Checklist-Community Edition (ABC-C). At trial endpoint (week 10), combination of PEA and risperidone had superior efficacy in ameliorating the ABC-irritability and hyperactivity/noncompliance symptoms (Cohen’s d, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.94, 0.41 to 1.46, p = 0.001) compared with a risperidone plus placebo regimen. Interestingly, effect of combination treatment on hyperactivity symptoms was also observed at trial midpoint (week 5) but with a smaller effect size (d = 0.53, p = 0.04) than that at the endpoint (d = 0.94, p = 0.001). Meanwhile, there was a trend toward significance for superior effect of risperidone plus PEA over risperidone plus placebo on inappropriate speech at trial endpoint (d = 0.51, p = 0.051). No significant differences existed between the two treatment groups for the other two ABC-C subscales (lethargy/social withdrawal and stereotypic behavior).

The findings suggest that PEA may augment therapeutic effects of risperidone on autism-related irritability and hyperactivity. Future studies are warranted to investigate whether PEA can serve as a stand-alone treatment for autism.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29807317

https://www.journalofpsychiatricresearch.com/article/S0022-3956(17)31405-X/fulltext

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Oral cannabis extracts as a promising treatment for the core symptoms of autism spectrum disorder: Preliminary experience in Chilean patients

Cover image volume 384, Issue

“Preclinical studies and several anecdotal case reports suggest a dysfunctional endocannabinoid system implicated in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Objective: To report our preliminary findings in patients with ASD treated with oral cannabis extracts.

Most cases improved at least one of the core symptoms of ASD, including social communication, language, or repetitive behaviors. Additionally, sensory difficulties, food acceptance, feeding and sleep disorders, and/or seizures were improved in most cases.

71,5% of patients received balanced CBD:THC extracts; 19,0% high-CBD; and 9,5% high-THC extracts.

Oral cannabis extracts were well tolerated.

Two patients had more agitation and one had more irritability, effects that were solved by changing the strain.

Conclusion: In this small series of ASD patients, oral cannabis extracts were dramatically more effective than conventional medicines. Large randomized controlled trials are needed to establish efficacy and safety of medicinal cannabis in ASD.”

http://www.jns-journal.com/article/S0022-510X(17)33120-9/fulltext

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The Endocannabinoid System and Autism Spectrum Disorders: Insights from Animal Models.

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“Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) defines a group of neurodevelopmental disorders whose symptoms include impaired communication and social interaction with restricted or repetitive motor movements, frequently associated with general cognitive deficits. Although it is among the most severe chronic childhood disorders in terms of prevalence, morbidity, and impact to the society, no effective treatment for ASD is yet available, possibly because its neurobiological basis is not clearly understood hence specific drugs have not yet been developed. The endocannabinoid (EC) system represents a major neuromodulatory system involved in the regulation of emotional responses, behavioral reactivity to context, and social interaction. Furthermore, the EC system is also affected in conditions often present in subsets of patients diagnosed with ASD, such as seizures, anxiety, intellectual disabilities, and sleep pattern disturbances. Despite the indirect evidence suggestive of an involvement of the EC system in ASD, only a few studies have specifically addressed the role of the EC system in the context of ASD. This review describes the available data on the investigation of the presence of alterations of the EC system as well as the effects of its pharmacological manipulations in animal models of ASD-like behaviors.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28880200

http://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/18/9/1916

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Cannabis ‘mimics love hormone in the brain’, study finds – marking new research possibilities for autism

Cannabis behaves like the human 'love hormone'

“Cannabis has a reputation for inducing feelings of peace and love – and now scientists claim they have found the reason why.

A new study reveals the illegal drug acts much in the same way as chemicals produced by the natural ‘love hormone’ oxytocin, which is known to boost emotional feelings and bonding towards romantic partners, between mothers and babies and friends.

The research, conducted on mice, found that higher levels of oxytocin led to the release of anandamide – which behaves very similarly in the brain to the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, THC.

Both chemicals attach to the same brain cell receptors, producing a similar ‘high’.

As part of the study, the researchers found that blocking anandamide reduced the pro-social effects of oxytocin – while a drug which preserved anandamide in the mice’s brains seemed to make them happier around other mice than other, untreated, animals.

Scientists say the results could highlight new paths for research in the treatment of autism, for which symptoms often include difficulty socialising.

It is very difficult to directly deliver oxytocin to the brain, however.

Dr Daniele Piomelli, of the Italian Institute of Technology in Genoa, Italy, said another strategy could be to intervene further down the oxytocin-anandamide pathway.

Our findings open the exciting possibility that drugs that block the degradation of anandamide, which are currently being tested for various anxiety disorders, could give a boost to the brain’s own oxytocin and help people with autism socialise more.

– DR DANIELE PIOMELLI, RESEARCHER

The findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”

http://www.itv.com/news/2015-10-27/cannabis-mimics-love-hormone-in-the-brain-study-finds/

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