ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM: A multi-facet therapeutic target.

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“Cannabis sativa is also popularly known as marijuana. It is being cultivated and used by man for recreational and medicinal purposes from many centuries.

Study of cannabinoids was at bay for very long time and its therapeutic value could not be adequately harnessed due to its legal status as proscribed drug in most of the countries.

The research of drugs acting on endocannabinoid system has seen many ups and down in recent past. Presently, it is known that endocannabinoids has role in pathology of many disorders and they also serve “protective role” in many medical conditions.

Several diseases like emesis, pain, inflammation, multiple sclerosis, anorexia, epilepsy, glaucoma, schizophrenia, cardiovascular disorders, cancer, obesity, metabolic syndrome related diseases, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and Tourette’s syndrome could possibly be treated by drugs modulating endocannabinoid system.

Presently, cannabinoid receptor agonists like nabilone and dronabinol are used for reducing the chemotherapy induced vomiting. Sativex (cannabidiol and THC combination) is approved in the UK, Spain and New Zealand to treat spasticity due to multiple sclerosis. In US it is under investigation for cancer pain, another drug Epidiolex (cannabidiol) is also under investigation in US for childhood seizures. Rimonabant, CB1 receptor antagonist appeared as a promising anti-obesity drug during clinical trials but it also exhibited remarkable psychiatric side effect profile. Due to which the US Food and Drug Administration did not approve Rimonabant in US. It sale was also suspended across the EU in 2008.

Recent discontinuation of clinical trial related to FAAH inhibitor due to occurrence of serious adverse events in the participating subjects could be discouraging for the research fraternity. Despite of some mishaps in clinical trials related to drugs acting on endocannabinoid system, still lot of research is being carried out to explore and establish the therapeutic targets for both cannabinoid receptor agonists and antagonists.

One challenge is to develop drugs that target only cannabinoid receptors in a particular tissue and another is to invent drugs that acts selectively on cannabinoid receptors located outside the blood brain barrier. Besides this, development of the suitable dosage forms with maximum efficacy and minimum adverse effects is also warranted.

Another angle to be introspected for therapeutic abilities of this group of drugs is non-CB1 and non-CB2 receptor targets for cannabinoids.

In order to successfully exploit the therapeutic potential of endocannabinoid system, it is imperative to further characterize the endocannabinoid system in terms of identification of the exact cellular location of cannabinoid receptors and their role as “protective” and “disease inducing substance”, time-dependent changes in the expression of cannabinoid receptors.”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27086601

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Placental expression of the endocannabinoid system in preeclampsia.

“In the present study, we aimed to analyze cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1), CB2 and fatty acid amid hydrolase (FAAH) expressions and localization in normal and preeclamptic placenta, in order to determine whether aberrant endocannabinoid activity is related to preeclampsia…

We observed markedly higher expression of CB1 protein in preeclamptic placental tissue. Increased CB1 expression might cause abnormal decidualization and impair trophoblast invasion, thus being involved in the pathogenesis of preeclampsia. As CB1 activation can induce endothelial dysfunction and enhance vascular inflammation, the strong CB1 immunoreaction in vascular endothelial and smooth muscle cells suggests that CB1 may contribute to the development of atherosis in the placental villi shown earlier in preeclampsia. While the detailed pathogenesis of preeclampsia is still unclear, the endocannabinoid system could play a role in the development of the disease.”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25787618

http://www.thctotalhealthcare.com/category/preeclampsia/

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Identification of the CB1 cannabinoid receptor and fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) in the human placenta.

“Synthetic cannabinoids, the psychoactive components of the Cannabis sativa (marijuana) and their endogenous counterparts, act through two G protein-coupled receptors, CB1 and CB2.

The endocannabinoids are metabolized by fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH).

We have examined CB1 receptor and FAAH expression in human term placenta by immunohistochemistry.

CB1 receptor was found to be present in all layers of the membrane, with particularly strong expression in the amniotic epithelium and reticular cells and cells of the maternal decidua layer. Moderate expression was observed in the chorionic cytotrophoblasts. The expression of FAAH was the highest in amniotic epithelial cells, chorionic cytotrophoblast and maternal decidua layer.

Our results suggest that the human placenta is a likely target for cannabinoid action and metabolism. ”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12744923

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A common variation in the cannabinoid 1 receptor (CNR1) gene is associated with pre-eclampsia in the Central European population.

“Recently it has been proposed that tightly regulated levels of endogenous cannabinoids play a fundamental role in early placental development.

The aim of this study was to investigate associations of three single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the cannabinoid 1 receptor (CNR1) gene (rs1049353, rs12720071 and rs806368) and their inferred haplotypes with pre-eclampsia, a severe pregnancy-associated condition characterized by abnormal development and remodeling of spiral decidual arteries…

This is the first study focusing on the relationship between SNPs in the CNR1 gene and pre-eclampsia risk.

Although limited by a relatively small sample size, the study indicates that rs806368 in the CNR1 gene may act as a susceptibility marker for pre-eclampsia in humans.”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21129839

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Differential expression of endocannabinoid system in normal and preeclamptic placentas: effects on nitric oxide synthesis.

“Anandamide (AEA) is a lipid mediator that participates in the regulation of several reproductive functions.

This study investigated the endocannabinoid system in normal (NP) and preeclamptic (PE) placentas, and analyzed the potential functional role of AEA in the regulation of nitric oxide synthesis…

These data suggest that AEA may be one of the factors involved in the regulation of NOS activity in normal and preeclamptic placental villous.

Interestingly, the differential expression of NAPE-PLD and FAAH suggests that AEA could play an important role in the pathophysiology of PE.”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23122699

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Decreased circulating anandamide levels in preeclampsia.

“The endocannabinoid system has a key role in female reproduction, including implantation, decidualization and placentation. A growing number of studies indicate that placental and peripheral blood anandamide levels correlate closely with both spontaneous miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy.

Anandamide has also been implicated in blood pressure regulation.

In this study, we aimed to determine circulating anandamide levels in preeclampsia for the first time in the literature…

In conclusion, we demonstrated for the first time in the literature that serum anandamide concentrations are decreased in women with preeclampsia.”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25716652

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Therapeutic potential of cannabinoid medicines.

Drug Testing and Analysis

“Cannabis was extensively used as a medicine throughout the developed world in the nineteenth century but went into decline early in the twentieth century ahead of its emergence as the most widely used illicit recreational drug later that century. Recent advances in cannabinoid pharmacology alongside the discovery of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) have re-ignited interest in cannabis-based medicines.

The ECS has emerged as an important physiological system and plausible target for new medicines. Its receptors and endogenous ligands play a vital modulatory role in diverse functions including immune response, food intake, cognition, emotion, perception, behavioural reinforcement, motor co-ordination, body temperature, wake/sleep cycle, bone formation and resorption, and various aspects of hormonal control. In disease it may act as part of the physiological response or as a component of the underlying pathology.

In the forefront of clinical research are the cannabinoids delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol, and their contrasting pharmacology will be briefly outlined. The therapeutic potential and possible risks of drugs that inhibit the ECS will also be considered. This paper will then go on to review clinical research exploring the potential of cannabinoid medicines in the following indications: symptomatic relief in multiple sclerosis, chronic neuropathic pain, intractable nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite and weight in the context of cancer or AIDS, psychosis, epilepsy, addiction, and metabolic disorders.”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24006213

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/dta.1529/abstract

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The endocannabinoid system and its therapeutic exploitation.

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“The term ‘endocannabinoid’ – originally coined in the mid-1990s after the discovery of membrane receptors for the psychoactive principle in Cannabis, Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol and their endogenous ligands – now indicates a whole signalling system that comprises cannabinoid receptors, endogenous ligands and enzymes for ligand biosynthesis and inactivation. This system seems to be involved in an ever-increasing number of pathological conditions. With novel products already being aimed at the pharmaceutical market little more than a decade since the discovery of cannabinoid receptors, the endocannabinoid system seems to hold even more promise for the future development of therapeutic drugs. We explore the conditions under which the potential of targeting the endocannabinoid system might be realized in the years to come.”  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15340387

http://www.nature.com/nrd/journal/v3/n9/full/nrd1495.html

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From cannabis to the endocannabinoid system: refocussing attention on potential clinical benefits.

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“Cannabis sativa is one of the oldest herbal remedies known to man. Over the past four thousand years, it has been used for the treatment of numerous diseases but due to its psychoactive properties, its current medicinal usage is highly restricted. In this review, we seek to highlight advances made over the last forty years in the understanding of the mechanisms responsible for the effects of cannabis on the human body and how these can potentially be utilized in clinical practice. During this time, the primary active ingredients in cannabis have been isolated, specific cannabinoid receptors have been discovered and at least five endogenous cannabinoid neurotransmitters (endocannabinoids) have been identified. Together, these form the framework of a complex endocannabinoid signalling system that has widespread distribution in the body and plays a role in regulating numerous physiological processes within the body. Cannabinoid ligands are therefore thought to display considerable therapeutic potential and the drive to develop compounds that can be targeted to specific neuronal systems at low enough doses so as to eliminate cognitive side effects remains the ‘holy grail’ of endocannabinoid research.”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23155985

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Targeting the endocannabinoid system with cannabinoid receptor agonists: pharmacological strategies and therapeutic possibilities.

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences: 367 (1607)

“Human tissues express cannabinoid CB(1) and CB(2) receptors that can be activated by endogenously released ‘endocannabinoids’ or exogenously administered compounds in a manner that reduces the symptoms or opposes the underlying causes of several disorders in need of effective therapy. Three medicines that activate cannabinoid CB(1)/CB(2) receptors are now in the clinic: Cesamet (nabilone), Marinol (dronabinol; Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ(9)-THC)) and Sativex (Δ(9)-THC with cannabidiol). These can be prescribed for the amelioration of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (Cesamet and Marinol), stimulation of appetite (Marinol) and symptomatic relief of cancer pain and/or management of neuropathic pain and spasticity in adults with multiple sclerosis (Sativex). This review mentions several possible additional therapeutic targets for cannabinoid receptor agonists. These include other kinds of pain, epilepsy, anxiety, depression, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, stroke, cancer, drug dependence, glaucoma, autoimmune uveitis, osteoporosis, sepsis, and hepatic, renal, intestinal and cardiovascular disorders. It also describes potential strategies for improving the efficacy and/or benefit-to-risk ratio of these agonists in the clinic. These are strategies that involve (i) targeting cannabinoid receptors located outside the blood-brain barrier, (ii) targeting cannabinoid receptors expressed by a particular tissue, (iii) targeting upregulated cannabinoid receptors, (iv) selectively targeting cannabinoid CB(2) receptors, and/or (v) adjunctive ‘multi-targeting’.”  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23108552

“Targeting the endocannabinoid system with cannabinoid receptor agonists: pharmacological strategies and therapeutic possibilities”  http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/367/1607/3353.long

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