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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Cannabis and Inflammation in HIV: A Review of Human and Animal Studies

viruses-logo“Persistent inflammation occurs in people with HIV (PWH) and has many downstream adverse effects including myocardial infarction, neurocognitive impairment and death.

Because the proportion of people with HIV who use cannabis is high and cannabis may be anti-inflammatory, it is important to characterize the impact of cannabis use on inflammation specifically in PWH. We performed a selective, non-exhaustive review of the literature on the effects of cannabis on inflammation in PWH.

Research in this area suggests that cannabinoids are anti-inflammatory in the setting of HIV. Anti-inflammatory actions are mediated in many cases through effects on the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the gut, and through stabilization of gut-blood barrier integrity. Cannabidiol may be particularly important as an anti-inflammatory cannabinoid. Cannabis may provide a beneficial intervention to reduce morbidity related to inflammation in PWH.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34452386/

https://www.mdpi.com/1999-4915/13/8/1521

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Targeting the endocannabinoid system for management of HIV-associated neuropathic pain: A systematic review

IBRO Neuroscience Reports“Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and antiretroviral therapy can independently induce HIV-associated neuropathic pain (HIV-NP).

Smoked cannabis has been reported to improve pain measures in patients with neuropathic pain.

Two clinical trials demonstrated greater efficacy of smoked cannabis over placebo in alleviating HIV-NP.

The available preclinical results suggest that targeting the ECS for prevention and treatment of HIV-NP is a plausible therapeutic option.

Clinical evidence shows that smoked cannabis alleviates HIV-NP.” 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34179865/

“Smoked cannabis has been shown to be effective for managing HIV-NP in two RCTs.”

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2667242121000051?via%3Dihub

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Daily Cannabis Use is Associated With Lower CNS Inflammation in People With HIV

Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society“Recent cannabis exposure has been associated with lower rates of neurocognitive impairment in people with HIV (PWH). Cannabis’s anti-inflammatory properties may underlie this relationship by reducing chronic neuroinflammation in PWH.

This study examined relations between cannabis use and inflammatory biomarkers in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and plasma, and cognitive correlates of these biomarkers within a community-based sample of PWH.

Results: HIV+ daily cannabis users showed lower MCP-1 and IP-10 levels in CSF compared to HIV+ non-cannabis users (p = .015; p = .039) and were similar to HIV- non-cannabis users. Plasma biomarkers showed no differences by cannabis use. Among PWH, lower CSF MCP-1 and lower CSF IP-10 were associated with better learning performance (all ps < .05).

Conclusions: Current daily cannabis use was associated with lower levels of pro-inflammatory chemokines implicated in HIV pathogenesis and these chemokines were linked to the cognitive domain of learning which is commonly impaired in PWH. Cannabinoid-related reductions of MCP-1 and IP-10, if confirmed, suggest a role for medicinal cannabis in the mitigation of persistent inflammation and cognitive impacts of HIV.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34261550/

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/journal-of-the-international-neuropsychological-society/article/abs/daily-cannabis-use-is-associated-with-lower-cns-inflammation-in-people-with-hiv/9A2960B21749A35F7490C06958B9A2B6

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The neurocognitive effects of a past cannabis use disorder in a diverse sample of people living with HIV

 Publication Cover“People living with HIV (PLWH) report higher rates of cannabis use than the general population, a trend likely to continue in light of recent policy changes and the reported therapeutic benefits of cannabis for PLWH. Therefore, it is important to better understand cannabis-associated effects on neurocognition, especially as PLWH are at heightened risk for neurocognitive impairment.

This study aimed to elucidate the effects of a past cannabis use disorder on current neurocognition in a diverse sample of PLWH.

Compared to the past CUD- group, the past CUD+ group performed significantly better on tests of processing speed, visual learning and memory, and motor ability.

Findings suggest PLWH with past cannabis use have similar or better neurocognition across domains compared to PLWH without past use.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32951441/

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09540121.2020.1822504?journalCode=caic20

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Cannabis use is associated with greater total sleep time in middle-aged and older adults with and without HIV: A preliminary report utilizing digital health technologies

“Current literature on the effect of cannabis use on sleep quality is mixed, and few studies have used objectively-measured sleep measures or real-time sampling of cannabis use to examine this relationship.

The prevalence of cannabis use among older adults and persons living with HIV has increased in recent years, and poor sleep quality is elevated in these populations as well. However, research examining cannabis-sleep relationships in these populations is lacking. Thus, we aimed to examine the relationship between daily cannabis use and subsequent objectively-measured sleep quality in middle-aged and older adults with and without HIV.

In this pilot study, seventeen (11 HIV+, 6 HIV-) adults aged 50-70 who consumed cannabis completed four daily smartphone-based surveys for 14 days, in which they reported their cannabis use (yes/no) since the last survey. Participants also wore actigraphy watches during the 14-day period to objectively assess sleep quality (i.e., efficiency, total sleep time, and sleep fragmentation).

In linear mixed-effects models, cannabis use was significantly associated with greater subsequent total sleep time (β=0.56; p=0.046). Cannabis use was not related to a change in sleep efficiency (β=1.50; p=0.46) nor sleep fragmentation (β=0.846, p=0.756) on days with cannabis use versus days without cannabis use.

These preliminary results indicate cannabis use may have a positive effect on sleep duration in middle-aged and older adults. However, future studies with larger sample sizes that assess cannabis use in more detail (e.g., route of administration, dose, reason for use) are needed to further understand this relationship.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32905460/

https://publications.sciences.ucf.edu/cannabis/index.php/Cannabis/article/view/59

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Synergistic effects of HIV and marijuana use on functional brain network organization

Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry “HIV is associated with disruptions in cognition and brain function.

These results suggest that marijuana use in HIV may normalize disruptions in brain network organization observed in persons with HIV.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32687963/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0278584620303560?via%3Dihub

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Long Term Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol Administration Inhibits Proinflammatory Responses in Minor Salivary Glands of Chronically Simian Immunodeficieny Virus Infected Rhesus Macaques

 viruses-logo“HIV/SIV-associated oral mucosal disease/dysfunction (HAOMD) (gingivitis/periodontitis/salivary adenitis) represents a major comorbidity affecting HIV patients on anti-retroviral therapy.

Using a systems biology approach, we investigated molecular changes (mRNA/microRNA) underlying HAOMD and its modulation by phytocannabinoids (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (∆9-THC)) in uninfected (n = 5) and SIV-infected rhesus macaques untreated (VEH-untreated/SIV; n = 7) or treated with vehicle (VEH/SIV; n = 3) or ∆9-THC (THC/SIV; n = 3).

Relative to controls, fewer mRNAs were upregulated in THC/SIV compared to VEH-untreated/SIV macaques. Gene enrichment analysis showed differential enrichment of biological functions involved in anti-viral defense, Type-I interferon, Toll-like receptor, RIG-1 and IL1R signaling in VEH-untreated/SIV macaques. We focused on the anti-ER-stress anterior gradient-2 (AGR2), epithelial barrier protecting and anti-dysbiotic WAP Four-Disulfide Core Domain-2 (WFDC2) and glucocorticoid-induced anti-inflammatory TSC22D3 (TSC22-domain family member-3) that were significantly downregulated in oropharyngeal mucosa (OPM) of VEH-untreated/SIV macaques.

All three proteins localized to minor salivary gland acini and secretory ducts and showed enhanced and reduced expression in OPM of THC/SIV and VEH/SIV macaques, respectively. Additionally, inflammation associated miR-21, miR-142-3p and miR-29b showed significantly higher expression in OPM of VEH-untreated/SIV macaques. TSC22D3 was validated as a target of miR-29b.

These preliminary translational findings suggest that phytocannabinoids may safely and effectively reduce oral inflammatory responses in HIV/SIV and other (autoimmune) diseases.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32630206/

https://www.mdpi.com/1999-4915/12/7/713

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Recent Cannabis Use in HIV Is Associated With Reduced Inflammatory Markers in CSF and Blood

 Home“Objective: To determine whether cannabis may reduce HIV-related persistent inflammation, we evaluated the relationship of cannabis use in people with HIV (PWH) to inflammatory cytokines in CSF and blood plasma.

Conclusions: Recent cannabis use was associated with lower levels of inflammatory biomarkers, both in CSF and blood, but in different patterns. These results are consistent with compartmentalization of immune effects of cannabis. The principal active components of cannabis are highly lipid soluble and sequestered in brain tissue; thus, our findings are consistent with specific anti-neuroinflammatory effects that may benefit HIV neurologic dysfunction.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32554630/

https://nn.neurology.org/content/7/5/e809

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Targeting Cannabinoid Receptor 2 on Peripheral Leukocytes to Attenuate Inflammatory Mechanisms Implicated in HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorder.

 SpringerLink“HIV infection affects an estimated 38 million people. Approximately 50% of HIV patients exhibit neurocognitive dysfunction termed HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorder (HAND). HAND is a consequence of chronic low-level neuroinflammation due to HIV entry into the brain. Initially, monocytes become activated in circulation and traffic to the brain. Monocytes, when activated, become susceptible to infection by HIV and can then carry the virus across the blood brain barrier. Once in the brain, activated monocytes secrete chemokines, which recruit virus-specific CD8+ T cells into the brain to further promote neuroinflammation. HAND is closely linked to systemic inflammation driven, in part, by HIV but is also due to persistent translocation of microorganisms across the GI tract. Persistent anti-viral responses in the GI tract compromise microbial barrier integrity. Indeed, HIV patients can exhibit remarkably high levels of activated (CD16+) monocytes in circulation.

Recent studies, including our own, show that HIV patients using medical marijuana exhibit lower levels of circulating CD16+ monocytes than non-cannabis using HIV patients. Cannabis is a known immune modulator, including anti-inflammatory properties, mediated, in part, by ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), as well as less characterized minor cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol (CBD), terpenes and presumably other cannabis constituents. The immune modulating activity of THC is largely mediated through cannabinoid receptors (CB) 1 and 2, with CB1 also responsible for the psychotropic properties of cannabis.

Here we discuss the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabinoids in the context of HIV and propose CB2 as a putative therapeutic target for the treatment of neuroinflammation. Graphical Abstract HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder is a systemic inflammatory disease leading to activation of plasmacytoid dendritic cells, monocytes and T cells. Monocyte and CD8 T cell migration across the BBB and interaction with astrocytes promotes neurotoxic inflammatory mediators release. CB2 ligands are proposed as therapeutics capable of suppressing systemic and localized inflammation.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32409991

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11481-020-09918-7

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