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 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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Cannabidiol Isolated From Cannabis sativa L. Protects Intestinal Barrier From In Vitro Inflammation and Oxidative Stress

Frontiers in Pharmacology (@FrontPharmacol) | Twitter“The relevance and incidence of intestinal bowel diseases (IBD) have been increasing over the last 50 years and the current therapies are characterized by severe side effects, making essential the development of new strategies that combine efficacy and safety in the management of human IBD. Herbal products are highly considered in research aimed at discovering new approaches for IBD therapy and, among others, 

Cannabis sativa L. has been traditionally used for centuries as an analgesic and anti-inflammatory remedy also in different gastrointestinal disorders. This study aims to investigate the effects of different C. sativa isolated compounds in an in vitro model of intestinal epithelium. The ability of treatments to modulate markers of intestinal dysfunctions was tested on Caco-2 intestinal cell monolayers.

Our results, obtained by evaluation of ROS production, TEER and paracellular permeability measurements and tight junctions evaluation show Cannabidiol as the most promising compound against intestinal inflammatory condition. Cannabidiol is able to inhibit ROS production and restore epithelial permeability during inflammatory and oxidative stress conditions, suggesting its possible application as adjuvant in IBD management.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33995048/

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2021.641210/full

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Cannabinoid receptor activation on hematopoietic cells and enterocytes protects against colitis

Oxford University Press“Cannabinoid receptor (CB) activation can attenuate inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in experimental models and human cohorts. However, the role of the microbiome, metabolome, or the respective contributions of hematopoietic and non-hematopoietic cells in the anti-colitic effects of cannabinoids has yet to be determined.

Methods: Female C57BL/6 mice were treated with either cannabidiol (CBD), Δ 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a combination of CBD and THC or vehicle, in several models of chemically induced colitis. Clinical parameters of colitis were assessed by colonoscopy, histology, flow cytometry and detection of serum biomarkers; single-cell RNA sequencing and qRT-PCR were used to evaluate the effects of cannabinoids on enterocytes. Immune cell transfer from CB2 knockout mice was used to evaluate the contribution of hematopoietic and non-hematopoietic cells to colitis protection.

Results: We found that THC prevented colitis, and that CBD, at the dose tested, provided little benefit to the amelioration of colitis, or when added synergistically with THC. THC increased colonic barrier integrity by stimulating mucus, tight junction and antimicrobial peptide production, and these effects were specific to the large intestine. THC increased colonic gram-negative bacteria, but the anti-colitic effects of THC were independent of the microbiome. THC acted on both immune cells via CB2 and on enterocytes to attenuate colitis.

Conclusions: Our findings demonstrate how cannabinoid receptor activation on both immune cells and colonocytes is critical to prevent colonic inflammation. These studies also suggest how cannabinoid receptor activation can be used as a preventive and therapeutic modality against colitis.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33331878/

https://academic.oup.com/ecco-jcc/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/ecco-jcc/jjaa253/6040793?redirectedFrom=fulltext

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THE PHARMACOLOGICAL CASE FOR CANNABIGEROL (CBG)

Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics: 375 (3) “Medical cannabis and individual cannabinoids, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), are receiving growing attention in both the media and the scientific literature. The Cannabis plant, however, produces over 100 different cannabinoids, and cannabigerol (CBG) serves as the precursor molecule for the most abundant phytocannabinoids.

CBG exhibits affinity and activity characteristics between THC and CBD at the cannabinoid receptors, but appears to be unique in its interactions with alpha-2 adrenoceptors and 5-HT1A Studies indicate that CBG may have therapeutic potential in treating neurological disorders (e.g., Huntington’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, and multiple sclerosis), inflammatory bowel disease, as well as having antibacterial activity.

There is growing interest in the commercial use of this unregulated phytocannabinoid. This review focuses on the unique pharmacology of CBG, our current knowledge of its possible therapeutic utility, and its potential toxicological hazards.

Significance Statement Cannabigerol (CBG) is currently being marketed as a dietary supplement and, as with cannabidiol (CBD) before, many claims are being made about its benefits. Unlike CBD, however, little research has been performed on this unregulated molecule, and much of what is known warrants further investigation to identify potential areas of therapeutic uses and hazards.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33168643/

https://jpet.aspetjournals.org/content/early/2020/11/09/jpet.120.000340

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Endocannabinoids Inhibit the Induction of Virulence in Enteric Pathogens

Cell | Publons
“Endocannabinoids are host-derived lipid hormones that fundamentally impact gastrointestinal (GI) biology. The use of cannabis and other exocannabinoids as anecdotal treatments for various GI disorders inspired the search for mechanisms by which these compounds mediate their effects, which led to the discovery of the mammalian endocannabinoid system. Dysregulated endocannabinoid signaling was linked to inflammation and the gut microbiota. However, the effects of endocannabinoids on host susceptibility to infection has not been explored. Here, we show that mice with elevated levels of the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG) are protected from enteric infection by Enterobacteriaceae pathogens. 2-AG directly modulates pathogen function by inhibiting virulence programs essential for successful infection. Furthermore, 2-AG antagonizes the bacterial receptor QseC, a histidine kinase encoded within the core Enterobacteriaceae genome that promotes the activation of pathogen-associated type three secretion systems. Taken together, our findings establish that endocannabinoids are directly sensed by bacteria and can modulate bacterial function.”
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“Fighting intestinal infections with the body’s own endocannabinoids. By harnessing the power of natural compounds produced in the body and in plants, we may eventually treat infections in a whole new way.”  https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/10/201007123119.htm

“Study may explain why cannabis plant can reduce symptoms of various bowel conditions” https://www.news-medical.net/news/20201007/Study-could-help-explain-why-cannabis-plant-can-reduce-symptoms-of-various-bowel-conditions.aspx

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Efficacy of combined therapy with fish oil and phytocannabinoids in murine intestinal inflammation

Phytotherapy Research“Fish oil (FO) and phytocannabinoids have received considerable attention for their intestinal anti-inflammatory effects.

We investigated whether the combination of FO with cannabigerol (CBG) and cannabidiol (CBD) or a combination of all three treatments results in a more pronounced intestinal antiinflammatory action compared to the effects achieved separately.

Colitis was induced in mice by 2,4-dinitrobenzenesulfonic acid (DNBS). CBD and CBG levels were detected and quantified by liquid chromatography coupled with time of flight mass spectrometry and ion trap mass spectrometry (LC-MS-IT-TOF). Endocannabinoids and related mediators were assessed by LC-MS. DNBS increased colon weight/colon length ratio, myeloperoxidase activity, interleukin-1β, and intestinal permeability.

CBG, but not CBD, given by oral gavage, ameliorated DNBS-induced colonic inflammation. FO pretreatment (at the inactive dose) increased the antiinflammatory action of CBG and rendered oral CBD effective while reducing endocannabinoid levels. Furthermore, the combination of FO, CBD, and a per se inactive dose of CBG resulted in intestinal anti-inflammatory effects. Finally, FO did not alter phytocannabinoid levels in the serum and in the colon.

By highlighting the apparent additivity between phytocannabinoids and FO, our preclinical data support a novel strategy of combining these substances for the potential development of a treatment of inflammatory bowel disease.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32996187/

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ptr.6831

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Cannabis and the Gastrointestinal Tract

“Cannabis has been used for its medicinal purposes since ancient times. Its consumption leads to the activation of Cannabis receptors CB1 and CB2 that, through specific mechanisms can lead to modulation and progression of inflammation or repair. The novel findings are linked to the medical use of Cannabis in gastrointestinal (GI) system.

Purpose: The objective of the present paper is to elucidate the role of Cannabis consumption in GI system. An additional aim is to review the information on the function of Cannabis in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Methods and results: This review summarizes the recent findings on the role of cannabinoid receptors, their synthetic or natural ligands, as well as their metabolizing enzymes in normal GI function and its disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and possible adverse events. The synergism or antagonism between Cannabis’ active ingredients and the “entourage” plays a role in the efficacy of various strains. Some elements of Cannabis may alter disease severity as over-activation of Cannabis receptors CB1 and CB2 can lead to changes of the commensal gut flora. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) contributes to gut homeostasis. The ability of ECS to modulate inflammatory responses demonstrates the capacity of ECS to preserve gastrointestinal (GI) function. Alterations of the ECS may predispose patients to pathologic disorders, including IBD. Clinical studies in IBD demonstrate that subjects benefit from Cannabis consumption as seen through a reduction of the IBD-inflammation, as well as through a decreased need for other medication. NAFLD is characterized by fat accumulation in the liver. The occurrence of inflammation in NAFLD leads to non-alcoholic-steatohepatitis (NASH). The use of Cannabis might reduce liver inflammation.

Conclusions: With limited evidence of efficacy and safety of Cannabis in IBD, IBS, and NAFLD, randomized controlled studies are required to examine its therapeutic efficacy.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32762830/

https://journals.library.ualberta.ca/jpps/index.php/JPPS/article/view/31242

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Association Between Cannabis Use and Healthcare Utilization in Patients With Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Retrospective Cohort Study

Cureus | LinkedIn“Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a frequent cause of abdominal pain and altered bowel habits, which is associated with significant healthcare utilization.

The effects of the active compound of cannabis, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), on gut motility and tone have been studied in several experimental models. It is unknown whether these effects correlate with improved healthcare utilization among cannabis users.

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the impact of cannabis use on inpatient length of stay and resource utilization for patients with a primary discharge diagnosis of IBS.

Cannabis users were less likely to have the following: upper gastrointestinal endoscopy (17.9% vs. 26.1%; adjusted odds ratio [aOR]: 0.51 [0.36 to 0.73]; p<0.001) and lower gastrointestinal endoscopy (21.1% vs. 28.7%; aOR: 0.54 [0.39 to 0.75]; p<0.001). Additionally, cannabis users had shorter length of stay (2.8 days vs. 3.6 days; p=0.004) and less total charges (US$20,388 vs. US$23,624). There was no difference in the frequency of CT abdomen performed.

Cannabis use may decrease inpatient healthcare utilization in IBS patients. These effects could possibly be through the effect of cannabis on the endocannabinoid system.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32528750/

“Our study provides evidence to suggest that cannabis use may decrease healthcare utilization and costs among hospitalized patients with IBS. These findings are likely attributable to the effects of cannabis’ active compound, THC, on gastrointestinal motility and colonic compliance. The role of cannabis in the treatment for IBS has potential for significant impact at the individual and population level given the burden of IBS on individual quality of life and healthcare expenditures.”

https://www.cureus.com/articles/30417-association-between-cannabis-use-and-healthcare-utilization-in-patients-with-irritable-bowel-syndrome-a-retrospective-cohort-study

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Cannabis and Canabidinoids on the Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: Going Beyond Misuse.

ijms-logo“Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are characterized by a chronic and recurrent gastrointestinal condition, including mainly ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease (CD). Cannabis sativa (CS) is widely used for medicinal, recreational, and religious purposes. The most studied compound of CS is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Besides many relevant therapeutic roles such as anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, there is still much controversy about the consumption of this plant since the misuse can lead to serious health problems. Because of these reasons, the aim of this review is to investigate the effects of CS on the treatment of UC and CD. The literature search was performed in PubMed/Medline, PMC, EMBASE, and Cochrane databases. The use of CS leads to the improvement of UC and CD scores and quality of life. The medical use of CS is on the rise. Although the literature shows relevant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that could improve UC and CD scores, it is still not possible to establish a treatment criterion since the studies have no standardization regarding the variety and part of the plant that is used, route of administration and doses. Therefore, we suggest caution in the use of CS in the therapeutic approach of IBD until clinical trials with standardization and a relevant number of patients are performed.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32331305

https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/21/8/2940

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