Promoting Oligodendrocyte Differentiation from Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells by Activating Endocannabinoid Signaling for Treating Spinal Cord Injury


“Transplantation of oligodendrocyte progenitor cell (OPC) at the injury site is being developed as a potential therapeutic strategy for promoting remyelination and locomotor function recovery after spinal cord injury (SCI). To this end, the development of expandable and functional human OPCs is crucial for testing their efficacy in SCI.

In mice and rats, the endocannabinoid signaling system is crucial for the survival, differentiation, and maturation of OPCs. Similar studies in humans are lacking currently. Endocannabinoids and exogenous cannabinoids exert their effects mainly via cannabinoid receptors (CB1R and CB2R). We demonstrated that these receptors were differentially expressed in iPSC-derived human NSCs and OPCs, and they could be activated by WIN55212-2 (WIN), a potent CB1R/CB2R agonist to upregulate the endocannabinoid signaling during glial induction.

WIN primed NSCs generated more OLIG2 + glial progenitors and migratory PDGFRα + OPC in a CB1/CB2 dependent manner compared to unprimed NSCs. Furthermore, WIN-induced OPCs (WIN-OPCs) robustly differentiated into functional oligodendrocytes and myelinate in vitro and in vivo in a mouse spinal cord injury model. RNA-Seq revealed that WIN upregulated the biological process of positive regulation of oligodendrocyte differentiation. Mechanistically, WIN could act as a partial smoothed (SMO) inhibitor or activate CB1/CB2 to form heteromeric complexes with SMO leading to the inhibition of GLI1 in the Sonic hedgehog pathway.

The partial and temporal inhibition of GLI1 during glial induction is shown to promote OPCs that differentiate faster than control’s. Thus, CB1R/CB2R activation results in more efficient generation of OPCs that can mature and efficiently myelinate.”

Evaluation of cannabinoid receptors type 1-2 in periodontitis patients

“Background: As effective immune modulators, Endocannabinoids may suppress the inflammatory responses in periodontitis. This study assessed the expression of cannabinoid receptors in gingiva and the impact on periodontitis.

Methods: A cross-sectional study on 20 patients with more than stage II and Grade A periodontitis and a control group consisting of 19 healthy individuals was performed. The gingival biopsies were assessed for the expression of CB1 and CB2 using the quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, TaqMan method.

Results: The study sample consisted of 39 subjects, 31 females (79.5%) and 8 males (20.5%), including 20 periodontitis subjects (80% female and 20% male), and control groups (78.9% female and 21.1% male). The mean ages of cases and controls were 33.3 ± 4.7 and 35.7 ± 5.1 years, respectively. The gene expression of CB2 in periodontitis was 27.62 ± 7.96 and in healthy subjects was 78.15 ± 23.07. The CB2 was significantly lower than the control group (p = .008). In comparison, the gene expression index of CB1 in the periodontal group (9.42 ± 3.03) was higher than the control group (6.62 ± 1.13) but did not meet a significant value (p = .671).

Conclusion: The lower expression of CB2 receptors in the periodontitis group may be due to the reduced protective effect of anti-inflammatory agents. These elements include cannabinoids and the imbalance leading to the predominance of pro-inflammatory effects. Therefore, the local effects of cannabinoids as an immunomodulator could be useful for oral inflammatory diseases such as periodontitis.”

“In conclusion, as CB2 receptors are expressed in gingival tissues, particularly immune cells and fibroblasts, they involve in tissue and wound repair. The lower expression of these receptors in periodontitis, could be related to the inflammatory reactions and interrupts wound repair. Therefore, it seems that the use of cannabinoid CB2 agonists in the form of mouth wash contributes to the healing of periodontitis.”

Inhibition of mitochondrial permeability transition pore and antioxidant effect of Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol reduces aluminium phosphide-induced cytotoxicity and dysfunction of cardiac mitochondria

Pesticide Biochemistry and Physiology

“Previous studies have demonstrated that phosphine gas (PH3) released from aluminium phosphide (AlP) can inhibit cytochrome oxidase in cardiac mitochondria and induce generation of free radicals, oxidative stress, alteration in antioxidant defense system and cardiotoxicity.

Available evidence suggests that cannabinoids have protective effects in the reduction of oxidative stress, mitochondrial and cardiovascular damages.

The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of trans-Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on AlP-induced toxicity in isolated cardiomyocytes and cardiac mitochondria.

Rat heart isolated cardiomyocytes and mitochondria were cotreated with different concentrations of THC (10, 50 and 100 μM) and IC50 of AlP, then cellular and mitochondrial toxicity parameters were assayed. Treatment with AlP alone increased the cytotoxicity, depletion of cellular glutathione (GSH), mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, lipid oxidation, mitochondria membrane potential (ΔΨm) collapse and mitochondrial swelling, when compared to control group. However, incubation with THC (10, 50 and 100 μM) attenuated the AlP-induced changes in all these parameters in a THC concentration-dependent manner.

Interestingly, the obtained results showed remarkably significant protective effects of THC by attenuation the different parameters of cytotoxicity, mitochondrial toxicity and oxidative stress induced by ALP in isolated cardiomyocytes and cardiac mitochondria. It is the first report showing the protective effects of THC against AlP-induced toxicity, and these effects are related to antioxidant potential and inhibition of mitochondria permeability transition (MPT) pore.

Based on these results, it was hypothesized that THC may be used as a potential therapeutic agent for the treatment of AlP-induced mitochondrial dysfunction and cardiotoxicity.”

“AIP-induced mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress in mitochondria.•

THC inhibits AIP-induced mitochondrial dysfunction in isolated mitochondria.•

THC reverses AIP-induced mitochondrial swelling in isolated mitochondria.•

THC inhibits AIP-induced MMP (ΔΨm) collapse in isolated mitochondria.•

THC ameliorates AIP-induced cytotoxicity and oxidative stress in cardiomyocytes.”

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Chronic Pain and the Endocannabinoid System: Smart Lipids – A Novel Therapeutic Option?

Karger Publishers Further Expands into Open Access and Open Science | STM  Publishing News

“The development of a high-end cannabinoid-based therapy is the result of intense translational research, aiming to convert recent discoveries in the laboratory into better treatments for patients. Novel compounds and new regimes for drug treatment are emerging. Given that previously unreported signaling mechanisms for cannabinoids have been uncovered, clinical studies detailing their high therapeutic potential are mandatory. The advent of novel genomic, optogenetic, and viral tracing and imaging techniques will help to further detail therapeutically relevant functional and structural features. An evolutionarily highly conserved group of neuromodulatory lipids, their receptors, and anabolic and catabolic enzymes are involved in a remarkable variety of physiological and pathological processes and has been termed the endocannabinoid system (ECS). A large body of data has emerged in recent years, pointing to a crucial role of this system in the regulation of the behavioral domains of acquired fear, anxiety, and stress-coping. Besides neurons, also glia cells and components of the immune system can differentially fine-tune patterns of neuronal activity. Dysregulation of ECS signaling can lead to a lowering of stress resilience and increased incidence of psychiatric disorders. Chronic pain may be understood as a disease process evoked by fear-conditioned nociceptive input and appears as the dark side of neuronal plasticity. By taking a toll on every part of your life, this abnormal persistent memory of an aversive state can be more damaging than its initial experience. All strategies for the treatment of chronic pain conditions must consider stress-related comorbid conditions since cognitive factors such as beliefs, expectations, and prior experience (memory of pain) are key modulators of the perception of pain. The anxiolytic and anti-stress effects of medical cannabinoids can substantially modulate the efficacy and tolerability of therapeutic interventions and will help to pave the way to a successful multimodal therapy. Why some individuals are more susceptible to the effects of stress remains to be uncovered. The development of personalized prevention or treatment strategies for anxiety and depression related to chronic pain must also consider gender differences. An emotional basis of chronic pain opens a new horizon of opportunities for developing treatment strategies beyond the repeated sole use of acutely acting analgesics. A phase I trial to determine the pharmacokinetics, psychotropic effects, and safety profile of a novel nanoparticle-based cannabinoid spray for oromucosal delivery highlights a remarkable innovation in galenic technology and urges clinical studies further detailing the huge therapeutic potential of medical cannabis (Lorenzl et al.; this issue).”

“The evidence that full-spectrum cannabis preparations have medical benefits with less unwanted central effects stimulated the development of an oromucosal spray containing full-spectrum water-soluble cannabis. This remarkable innovation in galenic technology advocates clinical studies further and enables the realization of the very promising therapeutic potentials. Medicinal cannabis has a favorable safety and tolerability profile”

Prophylactic administration of cannabidiol reduces microglial inflammatory response to kainate-induced seizures and neurogenesis


“Microglia, the dynamic innate immune cells of the central nervous system, become activated in epilepsy. The process of microglial activation in epilepsy results in the creation of an inflammatory environment around the site of seizure onset, which contributes to the epileptogenic process and epilepsy progression. Cannabidiol (CBD) has been effective for use as an adjunctive treatment for two severe pediatric seizure disorders. Newly recognized as an Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drug treatment in epilepsy, it has gained in popularity primarily for pain management. Although CBD is readily available in stores and online retailers, its mechanism of action and specifically its effects on microglia and their functions are yet fully understood. In this study, we examine the effects of commercially available CBD on microglia inflammatory activation and neurogenic response, in the presence and absence of seizures. We use systemic administration of kainate to elicit seizures in mice, which are assessed behaviorally. Artisanal CBD is given in different modes of administration and timing to dissect its effect on seizure intensity, microglial activation and aberrant seizure-related neurogenesis. CBD significantly dampens microglial migration and accumulation to the hippocampus. While long term artisanal CBD use does not prevent or lessen seizure severity, CBD is a promising adjunctive partner for its ability to depress epileptogenic processes. These studies indicate that artisanal CBD is beneficial as it both decreases inflammation in the CNS and reduces the number of ectopic neurons deposited in the hippocampal area post seizure.”

Inhibitory Effects of Cannabinoids on Acetylcholinesterase and Butyrylcholinesterase Enzyme Activities

Karger Publishers Further Expands into Open Access and Open Science | STM  Publishing News

Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) are two cholinergic enzymes catalyzing the reaction of cleaving acetylcholine into acetate and choline at the neuromuscular junction. Abnormal hyperactivity of AChE and BChE can lead to cholinergic deficiency, which is associated with several neurological disorders including cognitive decline and memory impairments.

Preclinical studies support that some cannabinoids including cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) may exert pharmacological effects on the cholinergic system, but it remains unclear whether cannabinoids can inhibit AChE and BChE activities.

Herein, we aimed to evaluate the inhibitory effects of a panel of cannabinoids including CBD, Δ8-THC, cannabigerol (CBG), cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), cannabicitran (CBT), cannabidivarin (CBDV), cannabichromene (CBC), and cannabinol (CBN) on AChE and BChE activities.

Results: Cannabinoids including CBD, Δ8-THC, CBG, CBGA, CBT, CBDV, CBC, and CBN (at 200 µM) inhibited the activities of AChE and BChE by 70.8, 83.7, 92.9, 76.7, 66.0, 79.3, 13.7, and 30.5%, and by 86.8, 80.8, 93.2, 87.1, 77.0, 78.5, 27.9, and 22.0%, respectively. The inhibitory effects of these cannabinoids (with IC50 values ranging from 85.2 to >200 µM for AChE and 107.1 to >200 µM for BChE) were less potent as compared to the positive control galantamine (IC50 1.21 and 6.86 µM for AChE and BChE, respectively). In addition, CBD, as a representative cannabinoid, displayed a competitive type of inhibition on both AChE and BChE. Data from the molecular docking studies suggested that cannabinoids interacted with several amino acid residues on the enzyme proteins, which supported their overall inhibitory effects on AChE and BChE.

Conclusion: Cannabinoids showed moderate inhibitory effects on the activities of AChE and BChE enzymes, which may contribute to their modulatory effects on the cholinergic system. Further studies using cell-based and in vivo models are warranted to evaluate whether cannabinoids’ neuroprotective effects are associated with their anti-cholinesterase activities.”

“Previously published work from our group has shown that medicinal plants and their derived natural products show neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties.

Notably, cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa (C. sativa) have been increasingly evaluated in studies to treat chronic pain, inflammation, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, and neurological diseases, specifically AD.

Furthermore, a study implicated that phytochemicals of C. sativa, including several cannabinoids, are inhibitors of AChE,

In summary, several cannabinoids exhibited moderate inhibitory effects against the activities of cholinesterases including AChE and BChE.”

“Naturally Occurring Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitors and Their Potential Use for Alzheimer’s Disease Therapy”

Topical cannabidiol (CBD) in skin pathology – A comprehensive review and prospects for new therapeutic opportunities

“Humans have utilised cannabis products in various forms throughout the recorded history. To date, more than 500 biologically active components have been identified in the plants of the Cannabis genus, amongst which more than 100 were classified as phytocannabinoids (exocannabinoids).

The plant genus Cannabis is a member of the plant family Cannabaceae, and there are three primary cannabis species which vary in their biochemical constituents: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica and Cannabis ruderalis. There has been a growing level of interest in research on the topical usage of a cannabis-based extract as a safer and more effective alternative to the usage of topical corticosteroids in treating some dermatoses.

Together with the discovery of the cannabinoid receptors on the skin, it has been further illustrated that topical cannabis has anti-inflammatory, anti-itching, analgesics, wound healing and anti-proliferative effects on the skin.”

Cannabis decriminalization and racial disparity in arrests for cannabis possession

Social Science & Medicine

“Rationale: Minorities often bear the brunt of unequal enforcement of drug laws. In the U.S., Blacks have been disproportionately more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession than Whites despite a similar rate of cannabis use. Decriminalizing cannabis has been argued as a way to reduce racial disparity in cannabis possession arrests. To date, however, the empirical evidence to support this argument is almost non-existent.

Objectives: To examine whether cannabis decriminalization was associated with reduced racial disparity in arrests for cannabis possession between Blacks and Whites in the U.S.

Methods: Using FBI Uniform Crime Report data from 37 U.S. states, cannabis possession arrest rates were calculated separately for Blacks and Whites from 2000 to 2019. A difference-in-differences framework was used to estimate the association between cannabis decriminalization and racial disparity in cannabis possession arrest rates (Blacks/Whites ratio) among adults and youths.

Results: Cannabis possession arrest rates declined over 70% among adults and over 40% among youths after the implementation of cannabis decriminalization in 11 states. Among adults, decriminalization was associated with a roughly 17% decrease in racial disparity in arrest rates between Blacks and Whites. Among youths, arrest rates declined among both Blacks and Whites but there was no evidence for a change in racial disparity between Blacks and Whites following decriminalization.

Conclusions: Cannabis decriminalization was associated with substantially lower cannabis possession arrest rates among both adults and youths and among both Blacks and Whites. It reduced racial disparity between Blacks and Whites among adults but not youths. These findings suggested that cannabis decriminalization had its intended consequence of reducing arrests and may have potential to reduce racial disparity in arrests at least among adults.”

“Cannabis decriminalization decreased arrests in both adults and youths.•

Cannabis decriminalization decreased arrests in both Blacks and Whites.•

Cannabis decriminalization decreased racial disparity in arrests only in adults.”

“Cannabis Decriminalization Reduces The Racial Disparity, A New Study Suggests”

A nutraceutical product, extracted from Cannabis sativa, modulates voltage-gated sodium channel function

ISRCTN - Publish with BioMed Central

“Background: Purified cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid, has gained regulatory approval to treat intractable childhood epilepsies. Despite this, artisanal and commercial CBD-dominant hemp-based products continue to be used by epilepsy patients. Notably, the CBD doses used in these latter products are much lower than that found to be effective in reducing seizures in clinical trials with purified CBD. This might be because these CBD-dominant hemp products contain other bioactive compounds, including phytocannabinoids and terpenes, which may exert unique effects on epilepsy-relevant drug targets. Voltage-gated sodium (NaV) channels are vital for initiation of neuronal action potential propagation and genetic mutations in these channels result in epilepsy phenotypes. Recent studies suggest that NaV channels are inhibited by purified CBD. However, the effect of cannabis-based products on the function of NaV channels is unknown.

Methods: Using automated-planar patch-clamp technology, we profile a hemp-derived nutraceutical product (NP) against human NaV1.1-NaV1.8 expressed in mammalian cells to examine effects on the biophysical properties of channel conductance, steady-state fast inactivation and recovery from fast inactivation.

Results: NP modifies peak current amplitude of the NaV1.1-NaV1.7 subtypes and has variable effects on the biophysical properties for all channel subtypes tested. NP potently inhibits NaV channels revealing half-maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) values of between 1.6 and 4.2 μg NP/mL. Purified CBD inhibits NaV1.1, NaV1.2, NaV1.6 and NaV1.7 to reveal IC50 values in the micromolar range. The CBD content of the product equates to IC50 values (93-245 nM), which are at least an order of magnitude lower than purified CBD. Unlike NP, hemp seed oil vehicle alone did not inhibit NaV channels, suggesting that the inhibitory effects of NP are independent of hemp seed oil.

Conclusions: This CBD-dominant NP potently inhibits NaV channels. Future study of the individual elements of NP, including phytocannabinoids and terpenes, may reveal a potent individual component or that its components interact to modulate NaV channels.”

Detection of Cannabinoid Receptor Expression by Endometriotic Lesions in Women with Endometriosis as an Alternative to Opioid-Based Pain Medication

The Journal of Immunology

“Emerging information suggests a potential role of medicinal cannabis in pain medication in addition to enhancing immune functions.

Endometriosis is a disease of women of reproductive age associated with infertility and reproductive failure as well as chronic pain of varying degrees depending on the stage of the disease. Currently, opioids are being preferred over nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) due to the latter’s side effects. However, as the opioids are becoming a source of addiction, additional pain medication is urgently needed.

Cannabis offers an alternative therapy for treating the pain associated with endometriosis.

Information on the use and effectiveness of cannabis against endometriotic pain is lacking. Moreover, expression of receptors for endocannabinoids by the ovarian endometriotic lesions is not known. The goal of this study was to examine whether cannabinoid receptors 1 and 2 (CB1 and CB2) are expressed by ovarian endometriotic lesions.

Archived normal ovarian tissues, ovaries with endometriotic lesions, and normal endometrial tissues were examined for the presence of endometrial stromal cells using CD10 (a marker of endometrial stromal cells). Expression of CB1 and CB2 were determined by immunohistochemistry, immunoblotting, and gene expression studies.

Intense expression for CB1 and CB2 was detected in the epithelial cells in ovarian endometriotic lesions. Compared with stroma in ovaries with endometriotic lesions, the expression of CB1 and CB2 was significantly higher in the epithelial cells in endometriotic lesions in the ovary (P < 0.0001 and P < 0.05, respectively). Immunoblotting and gene expression assays showed similar patterns for CB1 and CB2 protein and CNR1 (gene encoding CB1) and CNR2 (gene encoding CB2) gene expression.

These results suggest that ovarian endometriotic lesions express CB1 and CB2 receptors, and these lesions may respond to cannabinoids as pain medication. These results will form a foundation for a clinical study with larger cohorts.”

“Cannabinoids are compounds found in cannabis.”