Modulation of the endocannabinoid system by sex hormones: Implications for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.

Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews

“The endocannabinoid system is an increasingly recognised pharmacological target for treating stress and anxiety disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Recent preclinical developments have implicated the endocannabinoid system in stress responses, emotional memories and fear extinction, all critical to PTSD aetiology. However, preclinical research in endocannabinoid biology has neglected the influential role of sex hormone differences on PTSD symptomology, which is particularly important given that PTSD is twice as common in women as in men. In this review, we compile and consider the evidence that the endocannabinoid system is influenced by ovarian hormones, with application to stress disorders such as PTSD. It is clear that therapeutic modulation of the endocannabinoid system needs to be approached with awareness of ovarian hormonal influences, and knowledge of these influences may enhance treatment outcomes for female PTSD populations.”

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Role of endocannabinoids in the hippocampus and amygdala in emotional memory and plasticity.

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“Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is characterized by the reexperiencing of a traumatic event and is associated with slower extinction of fear responses.

Impaired extinction of fearful associations to trauma-related cues may interfere with treatment response, and extinction deficits may be premorbid risk factors for the development of PTSD.

We examined the effects of exposure to a severe footshock followed by situational reminders (SRs) on extinction, plasticity, and endocannabinoid (eCB) content and activity in the hippocampal CA1 area and basolateral amygdala (BLA).

The findings suggest that targeting the eCB system before extinction may be beneficial in fear memory attenuation and these effects may involve metaplasticity in the CA1 and BLA.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29977073

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41386-018-0135-4

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The Lateral Habenula Directs Coping Styles Under Conditions of Stress Via Recruitment of the Endocannabinoid System.

Biological Psychiatry Home

“The ability to effectively cope with stress is a critical determinant of disease susceptibility.

The lateral habenula (LHb) and the endocannabinoid (ECB) system have independently been shown to be involved in the selection of stress coping strategies, yet the role of ECB signaling in the LHb remains unknown.

CONCLUSIONS:

Alterations in LHb ECB signaling may be relevant for development of stress-related pathologies in which LHb dysfunction and stress-coping impairments are hallmark symptoms.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29887035

https://www.biologicalpsychiatryjournal.com/article/S0006-3223(18)31473-2/fulltext

“Cannabinoids reverse the effects of early stress on neurocognitive performance in adulthood.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27317195

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Review of the neurological benefits of phytocannabinoids.

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“Numerous physical, psychological, and emotional benefits have been attributed to marijuana since its first reported use in 2,600 BC in a Chinese pharmacopoeia. The phytocannabinoids, cannabidiol (CBD), and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) are the most studied extracts from cannabis sativa subspecies hemp and marijuana. CBD and Δ9-THC interact uniquely with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Through direct and indirect actions, intrinsic endocannabinoids and plant-based phytocannabinoids modulate and influence a variety of physiological systems influenced by the ECS.

METHODS:

In 1980, Cunha et al. reported anticonvulsant benefits in 7/8 subjects with medically uncontrolled epilepsy using marijuana extracts in a phase I clinical trial. Since then neurological applications have been the major focus of renewed research using medical marijuana and phytocannabinoid extracts.

RESULTS:

Recent neurological uses include adjunctive treatment for malignant brain tumors, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, neuropathic pain, and the childhood seizure disorders Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes. In addition, psychiatric and mood disorders, such as schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, addiction, postconcussion syndrome, and posttraumatic stress disorders are being studied using phytocannabinoids.

CONCLUSIONS:

In this review we will provide animal and human research data on the current clinical neurological uses for CBD individually and in combination with Δ9-THC. We will emphasize the neuroprotective, antiinflammatory, and immunomodulatory benefits of phytocannabinoids and their applications in various clinical syndromes.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29770251

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5938896/

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A Naturalistic Examination of the Perceived Effects of Cannabis on Negative Affect

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“Cannabis is commonly used to alleviate symptoms of negative affect. However, a paucity of research has examined the acute effects of cannabis on negative affect in everyday life.

The current study provides a naturalistic account of perceived changes in symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress as a function of dose and concentration of Δ9tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

Cannabis is commonly used to alleviate depression, anxiety, and stress. Indeed, one of the most commonly reported motives for cannabis use is to cope with stress, with 72% of daily cannabis users reporting use of cannabis to relax or relieve tension.

Results from the present study indicate that medical cannabis users report a substantial and significant reduction in symptoms of negative affect shortly after using cannabis.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29656267

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0165032718303100

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Glucocorticoid-endocannabinoid uncoupling mediates fear suppression deficits after early – Life stress.

Psychoneuroendocrinology

“Early-life stress (ELS) creates life-long vulnerability to stress-related anxiety disorders through altering stress and fear systems in the brain.

The endocannabinoid system has emerged as an important regulator of the stress response through a crosstalk with the glucocorticoid system, yet whether it plays a role in the persistent effects of ELS remains unanswered. By combining, behavioral, pharmacological and biochemical approaches in adult male rats, we examined the impact of ELS on the regulation of endocannabinoid function by stress and glucocorticoids.

These findings suggest that ELS results in an uncoupling of glucocorticoid-endocannabinoid signaling in the hippocampus, which, in turn, relates to alterations in stress regulation of memory recall. These data provide compelling evidence that ELS-induced deficits in the glucocorticoid-endocannabinoidcoupling following stress could predispose susceptibility to stress-related psychopathology.”

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Inhibition of fatty acid amide hydrolase by PF-3845 alleviates the nitrergic and proinflammatory response in rat hippocampus following acute stress.

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“Long term exposure to stress has been demonstrated to cause neuroinflammation through a sustained overproduction of free radicals, including nitric oxide, via an increased inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) activity.

Similar to nitric oxide, endocannabinoids are synthesised on demand, with preclinical observations suggesting that cannabinoid receptor agonists and endocannabinoid enhancers inhibit nitrergic activity.

RESULTS:

The results demonstrate that pre-treatment with PF-3845 rapidly ameliorates plasma corticosterone release at 60 minutes of stress. An increase in endocannabinoid signalling also induces an overall attenuation in iNOS, tumor necrosis factor-alpha convertase, interleukin-6, cyclooxygenase-2, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma mRNA, and the transactivation potential of NF-κB in the hippocampus.

CONCLUSIONS:

These results suggest that enhanced endocannabinoid levels in the dorsal hippocampus have an overall anti-nitrosative and anti-inflammatory effect following acute stress exposure.”

“Inhibition of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) potentiates endocannabinoid activity and is hypothesized to have therapeutic potential for mood and anxiety disorders and pain”  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29575526
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Cannabis Essential Oil: A Preliminary Study for the Evaluation of the Brain Effects.

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“We examined the effects of essential oil from legal (THC <0.2% w/v) hemp variety on the nervous system in 5 healthy volunteers. GC/EIMS and GC/FID analysis of the EO showed that the main components were myrcene and β-caryophyllene.

The experiment consisted of measuring autonomic nervous system (ANS) parameters; evaluations of the mood state; and electroencephalography (EEG) recording before treatment, during treatment, and after hemp inhalation periods as compared with control conditions. The results revealed decreased diastolic blood pressure, increased heart rate, and significant increased skin temperature.

The subjects described themselves as more energetic, relaxed, and calm.

The analysis EEG showed a significant increase in the mean frequency of alpha (8-13 Hz) and significant decreased mean frequency and relative power of beta 2 (18,5-30 Hz) waves. Moreover, an increased power, relative power, and amplitude of theta (4-8 Hz) and alpha brain waves activities and an increment in the delta wave (0,5-4 Hz) power and relative power was recorded in the posterior region of the brain.

These results suggest that the brain wave activity and ANS are affected by the inhalation of the EO of Cannabis sativa suggesting a neuromodular activity in cases of stress, depression, and anxiety.”

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Reduced levels of the endocannabinoid arachidonylethanolamide (AEA) in hair in patients with borderline personality disorder – a pilot study.

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“Endocannabinoids are involved in depressive and anxious symptoms and might play a role in stress-associated psychiatric disorders.

While alterations in the endogenous cannabinoid system have been repeatedly found in patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), this system has been mostly neglected in borderline personality disorder (BPD). However, there is first evidence for elevated serum levels of the endocannabinoids arachidonylethanolamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonyl-sn-glycerol (2-AG) in BPD patients compared to healthy controls and PTSD patients.

In this study, hair endocannabinoids were analyzed, reflecting long-term endocannabinoid concentrations. We assessed AEA concentrations as well as 2-AG and the 2-AG main isomer 1-AG (1-AG/2-AG) in hair in women with BPD (n = 15) and age- and education-matched healthy women (n = 16).

We found significantly reduced log AEA in BPD patients compared to healthy women (p = .03) but no differences in log 1-AG/2-AG concentrations. In addition, there was no association between 1-AG/2-AG and hair cortisol, but we found a non-significant correlation between hair concentrations of AEA and cortisol (p = .06).

Our data indicate altered long-term release of endogenous cannabinoids in women with BPD depending on type of endocannabinoid. AEA has been suggested to modulate the basal activity of the endocannabinoid system and seems to attenuate depressive and anxious symptoms. Thus, chronically reduced AEA might contribute to psychiatric symptoms in BPD.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29546791

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10253890.2018.1451837?journalCode=ists20

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Chronic treatment with URB597 ameliorates post-stress symptoms in a rat model of PTSD.

Cover image volume 28, Issue 3

“Activating the endocannabinoid system has become a major focus in the search for novel therapeutics for anxiety and deficits in fear extinction, two defining features of PTSD. We examined whether chronic treatment with the fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) inhibitor URB597 (0.2, 0.3, 0.4 mg/kg, i.p.) or the CB1/2 receptor agonist WIN55,212-2 (0.25, 0.5 mg/kg, i.p.) injected for 3 weeks to rats exposed to the shock and reminders model of PTSD would attenuate post-stress symptoms and affect basolateral amygdala (BLA) and CA1 CB1 receptors.

Exposure to shock and reminders enhanced acoustic startle response and impaired extinction. Rats exposed to shock and reminders and chronically treated with URB597 demonstrated normalized startle response and intact extinction kinetics. WIN55,212-2 only affected the startle response. The therapeutic effects of URB597 and WIN55,212-2 were found to be CB1 receptor dependent, as these effects were blocked when a low dose of the CB1 receptor antagonist AM251 (0.3 mg/kg, i.p. for 3 weeks) was co-administered. Moreover, URB597, but not WIN55,212-2, normalized the shock/reminders-induced upregulation in CB1 receptor levels in the BLA and CA1. One hour after the shock, N-arachidonoylethanolamine (AEA) was increased in the BLA and decreased in the CA1. Circulating 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) concentrations were decreased in shocked rats, with no significant effect in the BLA or CA1. FAAH activity was increased in the CA1 of shocked rats.

Chronic cannabinoid treatment with URB597 can ameliorate PTSD-like symptoms suggesting FAAH inhibitors as a potentially effective therapeutic strategy for the treatment of disorders associated with inefficient fear coping.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29519609

http://www.europeanneuropsychopharmacology.com/article/S0924-977X(18)30045-2/fulltext

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