Effects of Cannabis and Its Components on the Retina: A Systematic Review.

 Publication Cover“Cannabis is the most prevalent drug in the world and its consumption is growing. Cannabinoid receptors are present in the human central nervous system. Recent studies show evidence of the effects of cannabinoids on the retina, and synthesizing the results of these studies may be relevant for ophthalmologists. Thus, this review adopts standardized, systematic review methodology to investigate the effects of exposure to cannabis and components on the retina.

RESULTS:

We retrieved 495 studies, screened 229 studies, assessed 52 studies for eligibility, and included 16 studies for qualitative analysis. The cannabinoids most frequently investigated were delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), abnormal cannabidiol, synthetic cannabinoid, and cannabidiol (CDB). The outcomes most studied were neuroretinal dysfunction, followed by vascular effects. The studies also included investigation of neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects and teratogenic effects.

CONCLUSIONS:

This review suggests that cannabinoids may have an important role in retinal processing and function.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31648567

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15569527.2019.1685534?journalCode=icot20

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Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol Derivative-Loaded Nanoformulation Lowers Intraocular Pressure in Normotensive Rabbits.

“Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol-valine-hemisuccinate, a hydrophilic prodrug of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, synthesized with the aim of improving the ocular bioavailability of the parent molecule, was investigated in a lipid-based nanoparticle dosage form for ocular delivery.

RESULTS:

A peak intraocular pressure (IOP) drop of 30% from baseline was observed in rabbits treated with SLNs loaded with Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol-valine-hemisuccinate at 90 minutes. Treated eyes of rabbits receiving Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol-valine-hemisuccinate SLNs had significantly lower IOP than untreated eyes until 360 minutes, whereas the group receiving the emulsion formulation showed a drop in IOP until 90 minutes only. In comparison to marketed pilocarpine and timolol maleate ophthalmic solutions, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol-valine-hemisuccinate SLNs produced a greater effect on IOP in terms of both intensity and duration. In terms of tissue concentrations, significantly higher concentrations of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol-valine-hemisuccinate were observed in iris-ciliary bodies and retina-choroid with SLNs.

CONCLUSION:

Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol-valine-hemisuccinate formulated in a lipid-based nanoparticulate carrier shows promise in glaucoma pharmacotherapy.

TRANSLATIONAL RELEVANCE:

Glaucoma therapies usually focus on decreased aqueous humor production and increased outflow. However, such therapy is not curative, and there lies a need in preclinical research to focus efforts on agents that not only affect the aqueous humor dynamics but also provide neuroprotection. Historically, there have been bench-scale studies looking at retinal ganglion cell death post-axonal injury. However, for a smooth translation of this in vitro activity to the clinic, animal models examining IOP reduction, i.e., connecting the neuroprotective activity to a measurable outcome in glaucoma management (IOP), need to be investigated. This study investigated the IOP reduction efficacy of cannabinoids for glaucoma pharmacotherapy in a normotensive rabbit model, bringing forth a new class of agents with the potential of IOP reduction and improved permeation to the back of the eye, possibly providing neuroprotective benefits in glaucoma management.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31588378

“THC has been demonstrated to be effective in glaucoma management, helping to lower IOP in human subjects after smoking marijuana; however, the molecule fails to manifest a similar effect when dosed topically. This research explores molecular bioengineering and formulation-based strategies to improve the ocular bioavailability of THC, facilitating the molecule to translate into a dosage form capable of demonstrating a desired IOP-lowering effect even on topical application. These studies suggest that formulation development efforts along with prodrug derivatization can effectively improve the overall ocular bioavailability of THC. Thus, THC-VHS represents a potential new therapy option for the treatment and management of glaucoma by virtue of its superiority in lowering IOP when compared to antiholinergic and beta blockers, as studied in this model.”
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Selective Cannabinoid 2 Receptor Agonists as Potential Therapeutic Drugs for the Treatment of Endotoxin-Induced Uveitis.

molecules-logo“The cannabinoid 2 receptor (CB2R) is a promising anti-inflammatory drug target and development of selective CB2R ligands may be useful for treating sight-threatening ocular inflammation. This study examined the pharmacology of three novel chemically-diverse selective CB2R ligands. These unique ligands are potent and selective for CB2R and have good immunomodulating actions in the eye. The data generated with these three structurally-diverse and highly-selective CB2R agonists support selective targeting of CB2R for treating ocular inflammatory diseases.”
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31540271
https://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/24/18/3338

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Endogenous and synthetic cannabinoids induce the downregulation of cannabinoid CB1 receptor in retina.

Experimental Eye Research

“Endogenous and synthetic cannabinoids have been shown to provide neuroprotection to retinal neurons in acute animal models of retinopathy.

Chronic exposure to cannabinoid receptor (CB1R) agonists has been reported to induce downregulation of the CB1R in brain and behavioral tolerance.

The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of subchronic/chronic cannabinoid administration on CB1R downregulation in normal rat retina, its downstream prosurvival signaling and subsequent effect on retinal neuroprotection against AMPA excitotoxicity.

This study provides novel information regarding agonist-induced CB1R downregulation in rat retina after subchronic/chronic cannabinoid treatment, and its effect on downstream prosurvival signaling and neuroprotection.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31199905

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0014483519301216?via%3Dihub

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The Endocannabinoid System Is Present in Rod Outer Segments from Retina and Is Modulated by Light.

“The aim of the present research was to evaluate if the endocannabinoid system (enzymes and receptors) could be modulated by light in rod outer segment (ROS) from bovine retina. First, we analyzed endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) metabolism in purified ROS obtained from dark-adapted (DROS) or light-adapted (LROS) retinas. To this end, diacylglycerol lipase (DAGL), monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL), and lysophosphatidate phosphohydrolase (LPAP) enzymatic activities were analyzed using radioactive substrates. The protein content of these enzymes and of the receptors to which cannabinoids bind was determined by immunoblotting under light stimulus. Our results indicate that whereas DAGL and MAGL activities were stimulated in retinas exposed to light, no changes were observed in LPAP activity. Interestingly, the protein content of the main enzymes involved in 2-AG metabolism, phospholipase C β1 (PLCβ1), and DAGLα (synthesis), and MAGL (hydrolysis), was also modified by light. PLCβ1 content was increased, while that of lipases was decreased. On the other hand, light produced an increase in the cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 and a decrease in GPR55 protein levels. Taken together, our results indicate that the endocannabinoid system (enzymes and receptors) depends on the illumination state of the retina, suggesting that proteins related to phototransduction phenomena could be involved in the effects observed.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31016476

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12035-019-1603-5

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Potential for endocannabinoid system modulation in ocular pain and inflammation: filling the gaps in current pharmacological options

Neuronal Signaling

“Challenges in the management of ocular pain are an underappreciated topic. Currently available therapeutics lack both efficacy and clear guidelines for their use, with many also possessing unacceptable side effects. Promising novel agents would offer analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and possibly neuroprotective actions; have favorable ocular safety profiles; and show potential in managing neuropathic pain.

Growing evidence supports a link between the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and a range of physiological and disease processes, notably those involving inflammation and pain. Both preclinical and clinical data suggest analgesic and anti-inflammatory actions of cannabinoids and ECS-modifying drugs in chronic pain conditions, including those of neuropathic origin.

The ECS is present ubiquitously through the body, including a range of ocular tissues, and represents a promising target in the treatment of several physiological and pathophysiologic processes in the eye including, but not limited to, pain, inflammation, and neuronal damage. ”

http://www.neuronalsignaling.org/content/2/4/NS20170144

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Cannabinoid CB2R receptors are upregulated with corneal injury and regulate the course of corneal wound healing.

Experimental Eye Research

“CB2R receptors have demonstrated beneficial effects in wound healing in several models. We therefore investigated a potential role of CB2R receptors in corneal wound healing. We examined the functional contribution of CB2R receptors to the course of wound closure in an in vivo murine model. We additionally examined corneal expression of CB2R receptors in mouse and the consequences of their activation on cellular signaling, migration and proliferation in cultured bovine corneal epithelial cells (CECs). Using a novel mouse model, we provide evidence that corneal injury increases CB2R receptor expression in cornea. The CB2R agonist JWH133 induces chemorepulsion in cultured bovine CECs but does not alter CEC proliferation. The signaling profile of CB2R activation is activating MAPK and increasing cAMP accumulation, the latter perhaps due to Gs-coupling. Lipidomic analysis in bovine cornea shows a rise in acylethanolamines including the endocannabinoid anandamide 1 h after injury. In vivo, CB2R deletion and pharmacological block result in a delayed course of wound closure. In summary, we find evidence that CB2R receptor promoter activity is increased by corneal injury and that these receptors are required for the normal course of wound closure, possibly via chemorepulsion.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30905716

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0014483518307206?via%3Dihub

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Cannabinoid-mediated retinal rescue correlates with improved circadian parameters in retinal dystrophic rats.

 Experimental Eye Research“Ocular pathologies and blindness have been linked to circadian disorders. In previous studies, our group has demonstrated that retinitis pigmentosa is associated with degenerative changes in the melanopsin system and weaker circadian patterns.

We have also shown that cannabinoids preserve retinal structure and function in dystrophic P23H rats.

This study is consequently aimed at examining whether the morphologic and functional rescue of retinal degeneration by cannabinoids is associated with amelioration of circadian parameters.

The synthetic cannabinoid HU210 (100 μg/kg, i.p.) or vehicle were administered to transgenic P23H rats three times per week, from postnatal day 24-90. Sprague-Dawley rats were used as a healthy control group. Locomotor activity and scotopic electroretinograms were recorded, and the retinal structure was analyzed at the end of the experiment. The ERG a- and b-wave amplitudes and photoreceptor cell number were more deteriorated in vehicle-administered P23H rats as compared to P23H rats treated with HU210. In cannabinoid-administered P23H rats, the locomotor activity circadian rhythms showed less disturbance than that observed in vehicle-administered P23H rats, the latter showing lower values for mesor, amplitude, acrophase, percentage of variance and non-parametric variables. A positive linear correlation was found between retinal values and circadian parameters of locomotor activity from P23H rats.

This study thus provides evidence of a positive correlation between cannabinoid-mediated rescue of retinal structure and function and improvement of circadian rhythmicity.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30605663

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0014483518306511?via%3Dihub

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Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol and Cannabidiol Differentially Regulate Intraocular Pressure.

“It has been known for nearly 50 years that cannabis and the psychoactive constituent Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) reduce intraocular pressure (IOP).

Elevated IOP remains the chief hallmark and therapeutic target for glaucoma, a major cause of blindness.

THC likely acts via one of the known cannabinoid-related receptors (CB1, CB2, GPR18, GPR119, GPR55) but this has never been determined explicitly.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a second major constituent of cannabis that has been found to be without effect on IOP in most studies.

RESULTS:

We now report that a single topical application of THC lowered IOP substantially (∼28%) for 8 hours in male mice. This effect is due to combined activation of CB1 and GPR18 receptors each of which has been shown to lower ocular pressure when activated. We also found that the effect was sex-dependent, being stronger in male mice, and that mRNA levels of CB1 and GPR18 were higher in males. Far from inactive, CBD was found to have two opposing effects on ocular pressure, one of which involved antagonism of tonic signaling.

CBD prevents THC from lowering ocular pressure.

CONCLUSIONS:

We conclude that THC lowers IOP by activating two receptors-CB1 and GPR18-but in a sex-dependent manner. CBD, contrary to expectation, has two opposing effects on IOP and can interfere with the effects of THC.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30550613

https://iovs.arvojournals.org/article.aspx?articleid=2718702

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A Brief Background on Cannabis: From Plant to Medical Indications.

 Ingenta Connect

“Cannabis has been used as a medicinal plant for thousands of years.

As a result of centuries of breeding and selection, there are now over 700 varieties of cannabis that contain hundreds of compounds, including cannabinoids and terpenes.

Cannabinoids are fatty compounds that are the main biological active constituents of cannabis. Terpenes are volatile compounds that occur in many plants and have distinct odors.

Cannabinoids exert their effect on the body by binding to receptors, specifically cannabinoid receptors types 1 and 2. These receptors, together with endogenous cannabinoids and the systems for synthesis, transport, and degradation, are called the Endocannabinoid System.

The two most prevalent and commonly known cannabinoids in the cannabis plant are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol.

The speed, strength, and type of effects of cannabis vary based on the route of administration. THC is rapidly distributed through the body to fatty tissues like the brain and is metabolized by the cytochrome P450 system to 11-hydroxy-THC, which is also psychoactive.

Cannabis and cannabinoids have been indicated for several medical conditions.

There is evidence of efficacy in the symptomatic treatment of nausea and vomiting, pain, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, loss of appetite, Tourette’s syndrome, and epilepsy. Cannabis has also been associated with treatment for glaucoma, Huntington’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, and dystonia, but there is not good evidence to support its efficacy. Side effects of cannabis include psychosis and anxiety, which can be severe.

Here, we provided a summary of the history of cannabis, its pharmacology, and its medical uses.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30139415

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