Endocannabinoid-related compounds in gastrointestinal diseases.

Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine

“The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is an endogenous signalling pathway involved in the control of several gastrointestinal (GI) functions at both peripheral and central levels. In recent years, it has become apparent that the ECS is pivotal in the regulation of GI motility, secretion and sensitivity, but endocannabinoids (ECs) are also involved in the regulation of intestinal inflammation and mucosal barrier permeability, suggesting their role in the pathophysiology of both functional and organic GI disorders. Genetic studies in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel disease have indeed shown significant associations with polymorphisms or mutation in genes encoding for cannabinoid receptor or enzyme responsible for their catabolism, respectively. Furthermore, ongoing clinical trials are testing EC agonists/antagonists in the achievement of symptomatic relief from a number of GI symptoms. Despite this evidence, there is a lack of supportive RCTs and relevant data in human beings, and hence, the possible therapeutic application of these compounds is raising ethical, political and economic concerns. More recently, the identification of several EC-like compounds able to modulate ECS function without the typical central side effects of cannabino-mimetics has paved the way for emerging peripherally acting drugs. This review summarizes the possible mechanisms linking the ECS to GI disorders and describes the most recent advances in the manipulation of the ECS in the treatment of GI diseases.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28990365

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jcmm.13359/abstract

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Cannabinoid Receptors in Regulating the GI Tract: Experimental Evidence and Therapeutic Relevance.

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“Cannabinoid receptors are fundamentally involved in all aspects of intestinal physiology, such as motility, secretion, and epithelial barrier function. They are part of a broader entity, the so-called endocannabinoid system which also includes their endocannabinoid ligands and the ligands’ synthesizing/degrading enzymes.

The system has a strong impact on the pathophysiology of the gastrointestinal tract and is believed to maintain homeostasis in the gut by controlling hypercontractility and by promoting regeneration after injury.

For instance, genetic knockout of cannabinoid receptor 1 leads to inflammation and cancer of the intestines. Derivatives of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, such as nabilone and dronabinol, activate cannabinoid receptors and have been introduced into the clinic to treat chemotherapy-induced emesis and loss of appetite; however, they may cause many psychotropic side effects.

New drugs that interfere with endocannabinoid degradation to raise endocannabinoid levels circumvent this obstacle and could be used in the future to treat emesis, intestinal inflammation, and functional disorders associated with visceral hyperalgesia.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28161834

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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.”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27086601

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Dronabinol increases pain threshold in patients with functional chest pain: a pilot double-blind placebo-controlled trial.

“Noncardiac chest pain is associated with poor quality of life and high care expenditure. The majority of noncardiac chest pain is either gastresophageal reflux disease related or due to esophageal motility disorders, and the rest are considered functional chest pain (FCP) due to central and peripheral hypersensitivity. Current treatment of FCP improves 40-50% of patients.

Cannabinoid receptors 1 (CB1 ) and 2 (CB2 ) modulate release of neurotransmitters; CB1 is located in the esophageal epithelium and reduces excitatory enteric transmission and potentially could reduce esophageal hypersensitivity.

We performed a prospective study to evaluate its effects on pain threshold, frequency, and intensity in FCP.

Dronabinol increased pain thresholds significantly (3.0 vs. 1.0; P = 0.03) and reduced pain intensity and odynophagia compared to placebo (0.18 vs. 0.01 and 0.12 vs. 0.01, respectively, P = 0.04).

Depression and anxiety scores did not differ between the groups at baseline or after treatment.

No significant adverse effects were observed.

In this novel study, dronabinol increased pain threshold and reduced frequency and intensity of pain in FCP. Further, large scale studies are needed to substantiate these findings.”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26822791

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Protection from Radiation-Induced Pulmonary Fibrosis by Peripheral Targeting of Cannabinoid Receptor-1.

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“Radiation-induced pulmonary fibrosis (RIF) is a severe complication of thoracic radiotherapy that limits its dose, intensity, and duration. The contribution of the endocannabinoid signaling system in pulmonary fibrogenesis is not known. Using a well-established mouse model of RIF, we assessed the involvement of cannabinoid receptor-1 (CB1) in the onset and progression of pulmonary fibrosis.

Our results show that CB1 signaling plays a key pathological role in the development of radiation-induced pulmonary inflammation and fibrosis, and peripherally restricted CB1 antagonists may represent a novel therapeutic approach against this devastating complication of radiotherapy/irradiation.”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26426981

“We report for the first time the involvement of cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1)-mediated signaling in the onset and progression of radiation-induced pulmonary fibrosis (RIF). We were able to delay the onset of RIF by genetic targeting of CB1 receptors as well as by its pharmacological inhibition. Thus, pharmacological targeting of CB1 receptors with peripherally restricted CB1 antagonists void of central nervous system complications may represent a novel strategy to prevent the development of RIF.

In summary, we provide the first evidence on the key pathological role of CB1 signaling in radiation-induced pulmonary fibrogenesis and show that peripherally restricted CB1 antagonists may represent a novel therapeutic approach against this devastating and untreatable complication of radiotherapy/irradiation. Our results also suggest that targeting CB1 may provide benefits in other lung diseases associated with inflammation and fibrosis.”

http://www.atsjournals.org/doi/10.1165/rcmb.2014-0331OC

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Endocannabinoids and the Digestive Tract and Bladder in Health and Disease.

“Components of the so-called endocannabinoid system, i.e., cannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoids, as well as enzymes involved in endocannabinoid synthesis and degradation, have been identified both in the gastrointestinal and in the urinary tract.

Evidence suggests that the endocannabinoid system is implicated in many gastrointestinal and urinary physiological and pathophysiological processes, including epithelial cell growth, inflammation, analgesia, and motor function.

A pharmacological modulation of the endocannabinoid system might be beneficial for widespread diseases such as gastrointestinal reflux disease, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, colon cancer, cystitis, and hyperactive bladder.

Drugs that inhibit endocannabinoid degradation and raise the level of endocannabinoids, non-psychotropic cannabinoids (notably cannabidiol), and palmitoylethanolamide, an acylethanolamide co-released with the endocannabinoid anandamide, are promising candidates for gastrointestinal and urinary diseases.”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26408170

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The role of cannabinoids in regulation of nausea and vomiting, and visceral pain.

“Marijuana derived from the plant Cannabis sativa has been used for the treatment of many gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, including anorexia, emesis, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and others.

Several cannabinoid receptors, which include the cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1), CB2, and possibly GPR55, have been identified throughout the GI tract.

These receptors may play a role in the regulation of food intake, nausea and emesis, gastric secretion and gastroprotection, GI motility, ion transport, visceral sensation, intestinal inflammation, and cell proliferation in the gut.

…the regulation of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system has shed new knowledge in this field.

Novel drug targets such as FAAH and monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL) inhibitors appear to be promising in animal models, but more studies are necessary to prove their efficiency.

The promise of emerging drugs that are more selective and peripherally acting suggest that, in the near future, cannabinoids will play a major role in managing an array of GI diseases.”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25715910

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Emerging role of cannabinoids in gastrointestinal and liver diseases: basic and clinical aspects.

“A multitude of physiological effects and putative pathophysiological roles have been proposed for the endogenous cannabinoid system in the gastrointestinal tract, liver and pancreas.

These range from effects on epithelial growth and regeneration, immune function, motor function, appetite control, fibrogenesis and secretion.

Cannabinoids have the potential for therapeutic application in gut and liver diseases.

Two exciting therapeutic applications in the area of reversing hepatic fibrosis as well as antineoplastic effects may have a significant impact in these diseases.

This review critically appraises the experimental and clinical evidence supporting the clinical application of cannabinoid receptor-based drugs in gastrointestinal, liver and pancreatic diseases.

Application of modern pharmacological principles will most probably expand the selective modulation of the cannabinoid system peripherally in humans.

We anticipate that, in addition to the approval in several countries of the CB(1) antagonist, rimonabant, for the treatment of obesity and associated metabolic dysfunctions, other cannabinoid modulators are likely to have an impact on human disease in the future, including hepatic fibrosis and neoplasia.”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18397936

http://www.thctotalhealthcare.com/category/liver-disease/

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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.”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24006213

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/dta.1529/abstract

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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.”  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15340387

http://www.nature.com/nrd/journal/v3/n9/full/nrd1495.html

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