“Chronic pain is a common complaint among patients, and rheumatic diseases are a common cause for chronic pain. Current pharmacological interventions for chronic pain are not always useful or safe enough for long-term use.
Cannabis and cannabinoids are currently being studied due to their potential as analgesics. In this review we will discuss current literature regarding cannabinoids and cannabis as treatment for rheumatic diseases.
Fibromyalgia is a prevalent rheumatic disease that causes diffuse pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbances. Treatment of this syndrome is symptomatic, and it has been suggested that cannabis and cannabinoids could potentially alleviate some of the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia. In this review we cite some of the evidence that supports this claim. However, data on long-term efficacy and safety of cannabinoid and cannabis use are still lacking.
Cannabinoids and cannabis are commonly investigated as analgesic agents, but in recent years more evidence has accumulated on their potential immune-modulatory effect, supported by results in animal models of certain rheumatic diseases. While results that demonstrate the same effect in humans are still lacking, cannabinoids and cannabis remain potential drugs to alleviate the pain associated with rheumatic diseases, as they were shown to be safe and to cause limited adverse effects.”
“Medical cannabis is being increasingly used in the treatment of rheumatic diseases because, despite the paucity of evidence regarding its safety and efficacy, a growing number of countries are legalising its use for medical purposes in response to social pressure.
Cannabinoids may be useful in the management of rheumatic disorders for two broad reasons: their anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory activity, and their effects on pain and associated symptoms.
It is interesting to note that, although a wide range of medications are available for the treatment of inflammation, including an ever-lengthening list of biological medications, the same is not true of the treatment of chronic pain, a cardinal symptom of many rheumatological disorders.
The publication of systematic reviews (SR) concerning the use of cannabis-based medicines for chronic pain (with and without meta-analyses) is outpacing that of randomised controlled trials. Furthermore, narrative reviews of public institution are largely based on these SRs, which often reach different conclusions regarding the efficacy and safety of cannabis-based medicines because of the lack of high-quality evidence of efficacy and the presence of indications that they may be harmful for patients.
Societal safety concerns about medical cannabis (e.g. driving risks, workplace safety and pediatric intoxication) must always be borne in mind, and will probably not be addressed by clinical studies. Medical cannabis and cannabis-based medicines have often been legalised as therapeutic products by legislative bodies without going through the usual process of regulatory approval founded on the results of traditional evidence-based studies. This review discusses the advantages and limitations of using cannabis to treat rheumatic conditions.”
“β-caryophyllene (BCP) is a cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2) agonist that tempers inflammation.
An interaction between the CB2 receptor and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPAR-γ) has been suggested and PPAR-γ activation exerts anti-arthritic effects.
The aim of this study was to characterize the therapeutic activity of BCP and to investigate PPAR-γ involvement in a collagen antibody induced arthritis (CAIA) experimental model.
BCP significantly hampered the severity of the disease, reduced relevant pro-inflammatory cytokines, and increased the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-13. BCP also decreased joint expression of matrix metalloproteinases 3 and 9. Arthritic joints showed increased COX2 and NF-ĸB mRNA expression and reduced expression of the PPARγ coactivator-1 alpha, PGC-1α, and PPAR-γ. These conditions were reverted following BCP treatment.
Finally, BCP reduced NF-ĸB activation and increased PGC-1α and PPAR-γ expression in human articular chondrocytes stimulated with LPS. These effects were reverted by AM630, a CB2 receptor antagonist.
These results suggest that BCP ameliorates arthritis through a cross-talk between CB2 and PPAR-γ.”
“Described during the late 1980s and 1990s, cannabinoid receptors (CB1R and CB2R) are G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) activated by endogenous ligands and cannabinoid drug compounds, such as Δ9-THC. Whereas CB1R has a role in the regulation of neurotransmission in different brain regions and mainly mediates the psychoactive effects of cannabinoids, CB2R is found predominantly in the cells and tissues of the immune system and mediates anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory processes. Studies have demonstrated that CB1R and CB2R can affect the activation of T cells, B cells, monocytes, and microglial cells, inhibiting proinflammatory cytokine expression and upregulating proresolution mediators. Thus, in this review, we summarize the mechanisms by which CBRs interact with the autoimmune environment and the potential to suppress the development and activation of autoreactive cells. Finally, we highlight how the modulation of CB1R and CB2R is advantageous in the treatment of autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis (MS), type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).”
“Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic, inflammatory, synovitis-dominated systemic disease with unknown etiology. RA is characterized by the involvement of multiple affected joints, symmetry, and invasive arthritis of the limbs, which can lead to joint deformity, cartilage destruction, and loss of function. Cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2) has potent immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory effects and is predominantly expressed in non-neuronal tissues. In the current study, the role of CB2 in the process of inflammatory bone erosion in RA was examined. The selective agonist or high-affinity ligand of CB2 (4-quinolone-3-carboxamides CB2 agonist, 4Q3C CB2agonist, 4Q3C) significantly reduced the severity of arthritis, decreased histopathological findings, and markedly reduced bone erosion in collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) mice. In addition, 4Q3C prevented an increase in the nuclear factor-κB ligand (RANKL)/osteoprotegerin (OPG) ratio and inhibited the formation of osteoclasts in CIA mice. Furthermore, the expression of tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin-1β, cyclooxygenase-2, and inducible nitric oxide synthase was lower in 4Q3C-treated CIA mice than in control CIA mice. Micro-computed tomography corroborated the finding that 4Q3C reduced joint destruction. These data clearly indicate that the CB2-selective agonist, 4Q3C, may have anti-inflammatory and anti-osteoclastogenesis effects in RA and may be considered to be a novel treatment for RA.”
“An increasing number of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are using cannabis to treat their symptoms, although systematic studies regarding efficacy in RA are lacking. Within this review we will give an overview on the overall effects of cannabinoids in inflammation and why they might be useful in the treatment of RA.
Peripherally, cannabinoids show anti-inflammatory effects by activating cannabinoid type 2 receptors (CB2) which decrease cytokine production and immune cell mobilization. In contrast, cannabinoid type 1 receptor (CB1) activation on immune cells is proinflammatory while CB1 antagonism provides anti-inflammatory effects by increasing β2-adrenergic signaling in the joint and secondary lymphoid organs. In addition, the nonpsychotropic cannabinoid, cannabidiol (CBD) demonstrated antiarthritic effects independent of cannabinoid receptors. In addition to controlling inflammation, cannabinoids reduce pain by activating central and peripheral CB1, peripheral CB2 receptors and CBD-sensitive noncannabinoid receptor targets.
Cannabinoids might be a suitable treatment for RA, but it is important to target the right receptors in the right place. For clinical studies, we propose a combination of a CB2 agonist to decrease cytokine production, a peripheral CB1 antagonist to prevent detrimental CB1 signaling and to support anti-inflammatory effects of CB2 via activation of β2-adrenergic receptors and CBD to induce cannabinoid-receptor-independent anti-inflammatory effects.”
“Medical uses of Cannabis sativa have been known for over 6,000 years. Nowadays, cannabis is mostly known for its psychotropic effects and its ability to relieve pain, even though there is evidence of cannabis use for autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis centuries ago. The pharmacological therapy in autoimmune diseases is mainly based on immunosuppression of diffefent axes of the immune system while many of the drugs have major side effects. In this review we set out to examine the rule of Cannabis sativa as an immunomodulator and its potential as a new treatment option. In order to examine this subject we will focus on some major autoimmune diseases such as diabetes type I and rheumatoid arthritis.”
“Cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2) has been implicated as an important clinical regulator of inflammation and malignant osteolysis. Here, we observed that CB2 expression was markedly higher in the collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) mice synovium and bone tissues than in the non-inflamed synovium and bone tissues. We found that JWH133 ameliorates pathologic bone destruction in CIA mice via the inhibition of osteoclastogenesis and modulation of inflammatory responses, thereby highlighting its potential as a treatment for human rheumatoid arthritis.”
“The cannabinoid (CB) receptor 2, primarily expressed in immune cells, was shown to play important immune-regulatory functions. In particular, the CB2-R63 functional variant has been shown to alter the ability of the CB2 receptor to exert its inhibitory function on T lymphocytes.
The aim of this study was to investigate the association between a common dinucleotide polymorphism, Q63R, in the cannabinoid receptor 2 gene (CNR2) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in the Lebanese population.
One hundred five unrelated Lebanese RA patients and one hundred five controls from different Lebanese governorates were recruited in this study. Genomic DNA was extracted, polymerase chain reaction was performed, and CNR2 was genotyped in a blinded fashion. The χ2 test was used to determine the differences in genotypes and allele frequencies. CNR2 genotyping showed significantly higher frequencies of the CB2-R63 variant (allele frequencies, P < 0.00001; genotype distribution, P < 0.00001) in RA patients when compared with healthy controls. Moreover, RR carriers had more than 10-fold risk for developing RA (OR = 10.8444, 95% CI = 5.0950-23.0818; P < 0.0001), and QR carriers had more than 3-fold risk (OR = 3.8667, 95% CI = 1.7886-8.3591; P = 0.0006) as compared with QQ carriers.
Our preliminary results suggest a role of CB2-Q63R gene polymorphism in the etiology of RA, thus supporting its potential use as a pharmacological target for selective agonists in clinical practice.”
“Cannabis has been used to treat pain for thousands of years.
However, since the early part of the 20th century, laws restricting cannabis use have limited its evaluation using modern scientific criteria. Over the last decade, the situation has started to change because of the increased availability of cannabis in the United States for either medical or recreational purposes, making it important to provide the public with accurate information as to the effectiveness of the drug for joint pain among other indications.
The major psychotropic component of cannabis is Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), one of some 120 naturally occurring phytocannabinoids. Cannabidiol (CBD) is another molecule found in herbal cannabis in large amounts. Although CBD does not produce psychotropic effects, it has been shown to produce a variety of pharmacological effects. Hence, the overall effects of herbal cannabis represent the collective activity of THC, CBD and a number of minor components.
The action of THC is mediated by two major G-protein coupled receptors, cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1) and CB2, and recent work has suggested that other targets may also exist. Arachidonic acid derived endocannabinoids are the normal physiological activators of the two cannabinoid receptors.
Natural phytocannabinoids and synthetic derivatives have produced clear activity in a variety of models of joint pain in animals. These effects are the result of both inhibition of pain pathway signalling (mostly CB1) and anti-inflammatory effects (mostly CB2). There are also numerous anecdotal reports of the effectiveness of smoking cannabis for joint pain.
Indeed, it is the largest medical request for the use of the drug. However, these reports generally do not extend to regulated clinical trials for rheumatic diseases. Nevertheless, the preclinical and human data that do exist indicate that the use of cannabis should be taken seriously as a potential treatment of joint pain.”