Targeting the Endocannabinoid CB1 Receptor to Treat Body Weight Disorders: A Preclinical and Clinical Review of the Therapeutic Potential of Past and Present CB1 Drugs

biomolecules-logo“Obesity rates are increasing worldwide and there is a need for novel therapeutic treatment options.

The endocannabinoid system has been linked to homeostatic processes, including metabolism, food intake, and the regulation of body weight.

Rimonabant, an inverse agonist for the cannabinoid CB1 receptor, was effective at producing weight loss in obese subjects. However, due to adverse psychiatric side effects, rimonabant was removed from the market.

More recently, we reported an inverse relationship between cannabis use and BMI, which has now been duplicated by several groups.

As those results may appear contradictory, we review here preclinical and clinical studies that have studied the impact on body weight of various cannabinoid CB1 drugs. Notably, we will review the impact of CB1 inverse agonists, agonists, partial agonists, and neutral antagonists.

Those findings clearly point out the cannabinoid CB1 as a potential effective target for the treatment of obesity. Recent preclinical studies suggest that ligands targeting the CB1 may retain the therapeutic potential of rimonabant without the negative side effect profile. Such approaches should be tested in clinical trials for validation.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32512776/

https://www.mdpi.com/2218-273X/10/6/855

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Bidirectional Longitudinal Associations Between Cannabis Use and Body Mass Index Among Adolescents.

View details for Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research cover imageLiterature on the association between cannabis use and body mass index (BMI) among adults suggests that greater cannabis use is associated with a lower BMI. However, results are mixed among adolescents, with both cross-sectional and longitudinal studies finding positive, negative, and nonsignificant associations between cannabis use and BMI.

This longitudinal study aims to shed light on these associations by prospectively examining the associations between cannabis use and BMI across a 2-year window in a large sample of adolescent cannabis users.

Results: Results showed that baseline BMI predicted a positive and significant association with cannabis use slope. In addition, there was a significant and negative correlation between the cannabis use slope and the BMI slope. These significant associations remained after controlling for relevant covariates.

Conclusions: Results are consistent with the adult literature that reports a negative association between cannabis use and BMI. Future research should focus on uncovering the mechanisms that may drive the association between cannabis use and BMI.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32322679

https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/can.2019.0091

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The Atypical Cannabinoid Abn-CBD Reduces Inflammation and Protects Liver, Pancreas, and Adipose Tissue in a Mouse Model of Prediabetes and Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease.

Archive of "Frontiers in Endocrinology".“The synthetic atypical cannabinoid Abn-CBD, a cannabidiol (CBD) derivative, has been recently shown to modulate the immune system in different organs, but its impact in obesity-related meta-inflammation remains unstudied.

We investigated the effects of Abn-CBD on metabolic and inflammatory parameters utilizing a diet-induced obese (DIO) mouse model of prediabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Conclusions: These results suggest that Abn-CBD exerts beneficial immunomodulatory actions in the liver, pancreas and adipose tissue of DIO prediabetic mice with NAFLD, thus protecting tissues. Therefore, Abn-CBD and related compounds could represent novel pharmacological strategies for managing obesity-related metabolic disorders.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32210914

“In summary, we herein provide evidence that the atypical cannabinoid Abn-CBD is able to induce beneficial metabolic and anti-inflammatory actions at both systemic and tissue level in a mouse model of diet-induced prediabetes and NAFLD.”

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fendo.2020.00103/full

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Phytocannabinoids: Useful Drugs for the Treatment of Obesity? Special Focus on Cannabidiol.

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“Currently, an increasing number of diseases related to insulin resistance and obesity is an alarming problem worldwide. It is well-known that the above states can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular diseases. An excessive amount of triacylglycerols (TAGs) in a diet also evokes adipocyte hyperplasia and subsequent accumulation of lipids in peripheral organs (liver, cardiac muscle). Therefore, new therapeutic methods are constantly sought for the prevention, treatment and alleviation of symptoms of the above mentioned diseases.

Currently, much attention is paid to Cannabis derivatives-phytocannabinoids, which interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) constituents. Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the most abundant compounds of Cannabis plants and their therapeutic application has been suggested. CBD is considered as a potential therapeutic agent due to its anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-tumor, neuroprotective, and potential anti-obesity properties. Therefore, in this review, we especially highlight pharmacological properties of CBD as well as its impact on obesity in different tissues.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32194509

“A well-known ancient plant Cannabis sativa has been a subject of scientific interest for over 50 years. Moreover, it has been used for recreational and medical purposes for thousands of years. The plant comprises about 100 phytocannabinoids, which are C21 terpenophenolic constituents. Nowadays, the most-studied phytocannabinoids are: Δ9– tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC), Δ9-tetrahydrocannabivarin (Δ9-THCV), cannabinol (CBN), cannabidiol (CBD), cannabidivarin (CBDV), cannabigerol (CBG), and cannabichromene (CBC). So far, many studies have shown therapeutic properties of the above mentioned Cannabis compounds. Therefore, the aim of the current review is to focus on the emerging potential of CBD and other phytocannabinoids, which act as novel therapeutic agents in obesity treatment. From the existing data, we can conclude that CBD has the promising potential as a therapeutic agent and might be effective in alleviating the symptoms of insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.”

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fendo.2020.00114/full

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Phytocannabinoids promote viability and functional adipogenesis of bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells through different molecular targets.

Biochemical Pharmacology“The cellular microenvironment plays a critical role in the maintenance of bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (BM-MSCs) and their subsequent cell lineage differentiation. Recent studies suggested that individuals with adipocyte-related metabolic disorders have altered function and adipogenic potential of adipose stem cell subpopulations, primarily BM-MSCs, increasing the risk of heart attack, stroke or diabetes.

In this study, we explored the potential therapeutic effect of some of the most abundant non-euphoric compounds derived from the Cannabis sativa plant (or phytocannabinoids) including tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), cannabidiol (CBD), cannabigerol (CBG), cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) and cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), by analysing their pharmacological activity on the viability of endogenous BM-MSCs as well as their ability to alter BM-MSC proliferation and differentiation into mature adipocytes.

We provide evidence that CBD, CBDA, CBGA and THCV (5 µM) increase the number of viable BM-MSCs; whereas only CBG (5 µM) and CBD (5 µM) alone or in their combination promote their maturation into adipocytes via distinct molecular mechanisms. These effects were revealed both in vitro and in vivo. In addition, phytocannabinoids prevented the insulin signalling impairment induced by palmitate in adipocytes differentiated from BM-MSCs.

Our study highlights phytocannabinoids as a potential novel pharmacological tool to regain control of functional adipose tissue in unregulated energy homeostasis often occurring in metabolic disorders including type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), aging and lipodystrophy.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32061773

“The promiscuous pharmacology of phytocannabinoids makes them viable candidates for new medicines for the treatment of metabolic syndromes through the simultaneous resolution of collective complications due to impaired development, maintenance, activity and function of the adipose tissue. Furthermore, phytocannabinoids are generally well tolerated in comparison to potent synthetic PPAR agonists, and combination treatments may further improve their efficacy at lower doses.”

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006295220300873?via%3Dihub

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The Endocannabinoid System in Pediatric Inflammatory and Immune Diseases.

 ijms-logo“Endocannabinoid system consists of cannabinoid type 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid type 2 (CB2) receptors, their endogenous ligands, and the enzymes responsible for their synthesis and degradation. CB2, to a great extent, and CB1, to a lesser extent, are involved in regulating the immune response. They also regulate the inflammatory processes by inhibiting pro-inflammatory mediator release and immune cell proliferation. This review provides an overview on the role of the endocannabinoid system with a major focus on cannabinoid receptors in the pathogenesis and onset of inflammatory and autoimmune pediatric diseases, such as immune thrombocytopenia, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, obesity, neuroinflammatory diseases, and type 1 diabetes mellitus. These disorders have a high social impact and represent a burden for the healthcare system, hence the importance of individuating more innovative and effective treatments. The endocannabinoid system could address this need, representing a possible new diagnostic marker and therapeutic target.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31771129

https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/20/23/5875

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Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid A (THCA-A) reduces adiposity and prevents metabolic disease caused by diet-induced obesity.

Biochemical Pharmacology“Medicinal cannabis has remarkable therapeutic potential, but its clinical use is limited by the psychotropic activity of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC). However, the biological profile of the carboxylated, non-narcotic native precursor of Δ9-THC, the Δ9-THC acid A (Δ9-THCA-A), remains largely unexplored.

Here we present evidence that Δ9-THCA-A is a partial and selective PPARγ modulator, endowed with lower adipogenic activity than the full PPARγ agonist rosiglitazone (RGZ) and enhanced osteoblastogenic effects in hMSC. Docking and in vitro functional assays indicated that Δ9-THCA-A binds to and activates PPARγ by acting at both the canonical and the alternative sites of the ligand-binding domain. Transcriptomic signatures in iWAT from mice treated with Δ9-THCA-A confirmed its mode of action through PPARγ.

Administration of Δ9-THCA-A in a mouse model of HFD-induced obesity significantly reduced fat mass and body weight gain, markedly ameliorating glucose intolerance and insulin resistance, and largely preventing liver steatosis, adipogenesis and macrophage infiltration in fat tissues. Additionally, immunohistochemistry, transcriptomic, and plasma biomarker analyses showed that treatment with Δ9-THCA-A caused browning of iWAT and displayed potent anti-inflammatory actions in HFD mice.

Our data validate the potential of Δ9-THCA-A as a low adipogenic PPARγ agonist, capable of substantially improving the symptoms of obesity-associated metabolic syndrome and inflammation.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31706843

“Δ9-THCA-A is a partial PPARγ ligand agonist with low adipogenic activity. Δ9-THCA-A enhances osteoblastogenesis in bone marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells. Δ9-THCA-A reduces body weight gain, fat mass, and liver steatosis in HFD-fed mice. Δ9-THCA-A improves glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity, and insulin profiles in vivo. Δ9-THCA-A induces browning of iWAT and has a potent anti-inflammatory activity.”

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0006295219303922?via%3Dihub

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Disease associated polymorphisms within the conserved ECR1 enhancer differentially regulate the tissue specific activity of the cannabinoid-1 receptor gene promoter; implications for cannabinoid pharmacogenetics.

Publication cover image“Cannabinoid receptor-1 (CB1) represents a potential drug target against conditions that include obesity and substance abuse. However, drug trials targeting CB1 (encoded by the CNR1 gene) have been compromised by differences in patient response.

Towards addressing the hypothesis that genetic changes within the regulatory regions controlling CNR1 expression contribute to these differences, we characterised the effects of disease associated allelic variation within a conserved regulatory sequence (ECR1) in CNR1 intron 2 that had previously been shown to modulate cannabinoid response, alcohol intake and anxiety-like behaviour.

We used primary cell analysis of reporters carrying different allelic variants of the human ECR1 and found that human specific C-allele variants of ECR1 (ECR1(C)) drove higher levels of CNR1prom activity in primary hippocampal cells than did the ancestral T-allele and demonstrated a differential response to CB1 agonism.

We further demonstrate a role for the AP-1 transcription factor in driving higher ECR1(C) activity and evidence that the ancestral t-allele variant of ECR1 interacted with higher affinity with the insulator binding factor CTCF. The cell-specific approaches used in our study represent an important step in gaining a mechanistic understanding the roles of non-coding polymorphic variation in disease and in the increasingly important field of cannabinoid pharmacogenetics.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31608546

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/humu.23931

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Insights into biased signaling at cannabinoid receptors: synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists.

Biochemical Pharmacology“Cannabinoid receptors type 1 (CB1) and type 2 (CB2) are promising targets for a number of diseases, including obesity, neuropathic pain, and multiple sclerosis, among others.

Upon ligand-mediated activation of these receptors, multiple receptor conformations could be stabilized, resulting in a complex pattern of possible intracellular effects. Although numerous compounds have been developed and widely used to target cannabinoid receptors, their mode of action and signaling properties are often only poorly characterized.

From a drug development point of view, unraveling the underlying complex signaling mechanism could offer the possibility to generate medicines with the desired therapeutic profile.

Recently, an increased interest has emerged for the development of agonists that are signaling pathway-selective and thereby do not evoke on-target adverse effects. This phenomenon, in which specific pathways are preferred upon receptor activation by certain ligands, is also known as ‘biased signaling’.

For a particular group of cannabinoid receptor ligands (i.e. CB1/CB2 agonists), namely the synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists (SCRAs), the research on biased signaling is still in its infancy and interesting outcomes are only recently being revealed.

Therefore, this review aims at providing insights into the recent knowledge about biased agonism mediated by SCRAs so far. In addition, as these outcomes are obtained using a distinct panel of functional assays, the accompanying difficulties and challenges when comparing functional outcomes are critically discussed. Finally, some guidance on the conceptualization of ideal in vitro assays for the detection of SCRA-mediated biased agonism, which is also relevant for compounds belonging to other chemical classes, is provided.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31472128

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0006295219303132?via%3Dihub

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Dual Inhibition of Cannabinoid-1 Receptor and iNOS Attenuates Obesity-induced Chronic Kidney Disease.

British Journal of Pharmacology banner“Obesity, an important risk factor for developing chronic kidney disease (CKD), affects the kidneys by two main molecular signaling pathways: the endocannabinoid/CB1 R system, whose activation in obesity promotes renal inflammation, fibrosis, and injury; and the inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), which generates reactive oxygen species resulting in oxidative stress. Hence, a combined peripheral inhibitory molecule that targets both CB1 R and iNOS may serve as an efficacious therapeutic agent against obesity-induced CKD.

KEY RESULTS:

Enhanced expression of CB1 R and iNOS in renal tubules was found in human kidney patients with obesity and other CKDs. The hybrid inhibitor ameliorated obesity-induced kidney morphological and functional changes via decreasing kidney inflammation, fibrosis, oxidative stress, and renal injury. Some of these features were independent of the improved metabolic profile mediated via inhibition of CB1 R. An additional interesting finding is that these beneficial effects on the kidney were partially associated with modulating renal adiponectin signaling.

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS:

Collectively, our results highlight the therapeutic relevance of blocking CB1 R and iNOS in ameliorating obesity-induced CKD.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31454063

https://bpspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/bph.14849

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