Increasing cannabinoid levels by pharmacological and genetic manipulation delay disease progression in SOD1 mice.

“Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disorder characterized by the selective loss of motoneurons in the spinal cord, brain stem, and motor cortex. However, despite intensive research, an effective treatment for this disease remains elusive. In this study we show that treatment of postsymptomatic, 90-day-old SOD1G93A mice with a synthetic cannabinoid, WIN55,212-2, significantly delays disease progression…

Increasing evidence suggests that cannabinoids might have therapeutic potential in neurodegenerative conditions. In a variety of in vivo and in vitro models, cannabinoids exert neuroprotective effects under excitotoxic, ischemic, and inflammatory conditions. This combination of neuroprotective actions might be particularly relevant to ALS and suggests that cannabinoids might have a greater impact on disease progression than the established therapy that targets excitotoxicity alone.

…┬áthe neuroprotective effects observed following pharmacological and genetic augmentation of cannabinoid levels are not necessarily mediated by the CB1 receptor, and indeed inhibition of the CB1 receptor might actually be neuroprotective. Therefore, in contrast to previous studies that have suggested that cannabinoids exert neuroprotection via the CB1 receptor, the present results suggest that activation of CB2 receptors might underlie the beneficial effects of cannabinoids at least in SOD1G93A mice .”

Together these results show that cannabinoids have significant neuroprotective effects in this model of ALS and suggest that these beneficial effects may be mediated by non-CB1 receptor mechanisms.”

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