Cannabinoids and Neurogenesis: The Promised Solution for Neurodegeneration?

molecules-logo“The concept of neurons as irreplaceable cells does not hold true today. Experiments and evidence of neurogenesis, also, in the adult brain give hope that some compounds or drugs can enhance this process, helping to reverse the outcomes of diseases or traumas that once were thought to be everlasting.

Cannabinoids, both from natural and artificial origins, already proved to have several beneficial effects (e.g., anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidants and analgesic action), but also capacity to increase neuronal population, by replacing the cells that were lost and/or regenerate a damaged nerve cell.

Neurogenesis is a process which is not highly represented in literature as neuroprotection, though it is as important as prevention of nervous system damage, because it can represent a possible solution when neuronal death is already present, such as in neurodegenerative diseases.

The aim of this review is to resume the experimental evidence of phyto- and synthetic cannabinoids effects on neurogenesis, both in vitro and in vivo, in order to elucidate if they possess also neurogenetic and neurorepairing properties.”

“The current results of cannabinoids effects on neurogenesis are encouraging, and it is expectable that the amount of evidence continues to increase in the future with other experiments.”

Effects of cannabis ingestion on endometriosis-associated pelvic pain and related symptoms

Ostovari, Yu research published in PLOS ONE - Healthcare Ergonomics  Analytics Lab - Purdue University“Background: The use of cannabis for symptoms of endometriosis was investigated utilising retrospective archival data from Strainprint Technologies Ltd., a Canadian data technology company with a mobile phone application that tracks a range of data including dose, mode of administration, chemovar and their effects on various self-reported outcomes, including pelvic pain.

Results: A total number of 252 participants identifying as suffering endometriosis recorded 16193 sessions using cannabis between April 2017 and February 2020. The most common method of ingestion was inhalation (n = 10914, 67.4%), with pain as the most common reported symptom being treated by cannabis (n = 9281, 57.3%). Gastrointestinal symptoms, though a less common reason for cannabis usage (15.2%), had the greatest self-reported improvement after use. Inhaled forms had higher efficacy for pain, while oral forms were superior for mood and gastrointestinal symptoms. Dosage varied across ingestion methods, with a median dose of 9 inhalations (IQR 5 to 11) for inhaled dosage forms and 1 mg/mL (IQR 0.5 to 2) for other ingested dosage forms. The ratio of THC to CBD had a statistically significant, yet clinically small, differential effect on efficacy, depending on method of ingestion.

Conclusions: Cannabis appears to be effective for pelvic pain, gastrointestinal issues and mood, with effectiveness differing based on method of ingestion. The greater propensity for use of an inhaled dosage delivery may be due to the rapid onset of pain-relieving effects versus the slower onset of oral products. Oral forms appeared to be superior compared to inhaled forms in the less commonly reported mood or gastrointestinal categories. Clinical trials investigating the tolerability and effectiveness of cannabis for endometriosis pain and associated symptoms are urgently required.”

“Recent studies have suggested that a dysfunction in the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is present in endometriosis patients, and that aspects of endometriosis-associated pain may be targeted by modulating the ECS .Previous research on the use of illicit cannabis in women with endometriosis has shown promise in the treatment of endometriosis pain and co-morbid symptoms such as poor sleep, gastrointestinal upset and mood disorders.”

Health Outcomes among Adults Initiating Medical Cannabis for Chronic Pain: A 3-month Prospective Study Incorporating Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA)

“In response to the need of more rigorous data on medical cannabis and chronic pain, we conducted a 3-month prospective study incorporating ecological momentary assessment (EMA) to examine the effects of medical cannabis on pain, anxiety/depression, sleep, and quality of life.

Data were collected from 46 adults (Mean age=55.7±11.9, 52.2% male) newly initiating medical cannabis treatment for chronic pain. Participants completed a baseline survey, EMA for approximately 1 week pre- and up to 3 weeks post- medical cannabis treatment, and a 3-month follow-up survey.

The self-reported EMA data (2535 random and 705 daily assessments) indicated significant reductions in momentary pain intensity (b = -16.5, p < .001, 16.5 points reduction on 0-100 visual analog) and anxiety (b = -0.89, p < .05), and significant increase in daily sleep duration (b = 0.34, p < .01) and sleep quality (b = 0.32, p <.001) after participants initiated medical cannabis for a few weeks.

At 3 months, self-reported survey data showed significantly lower levels of worst pain (t = -2.38, p < .05), pain interference (t = -3.82, p < .05), and depression (t = -3.43, p < .01), as well as increased sleep duration (t = 3.95, p < .001), sleep quality (t = -3.04, p < .01), and quality of life (t = 4.48, p < .001) compared to baseline.

In our sample of primarily middle-aged and older adults with chronic pain, medical cannabis was associated with reduced pain intensity/inference, lower anxiety/depression, and improved sleep and quality of life.”

Analgesic Potential of Terpenes Derived from Cannabis sativa

Pharmacological Reviews“Pain prevalence among adults in the United States has increased 25% over the past two decades, resulting in high health-care costs and impacts to patient quality of life. In the last 30 years, our understanding of pain circuits and (intra)cellular mechanisms has grown exponentially, but this understanding has not yet resulted in improved therapies. Options for pain management are limited. Many analgesics have poor efficacy and are accompanied by severe side effects such as addiction, resulting in a devastating opioid abuse and overdose epidemic. These problems have encouraged scientists to identify novel molecular targets and develop alternative pain therapeutics.

Increasing preclinical and clinical evidence suggests that cannabis has several beneficial pharmacological activities, including pain relief.

Cannabis sativa contains more than 500 chemical compounds, with two principle phytocannabinoids, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Beyond phytocannabinoids, more than 150 terpenes have been identified in different cannabis chemovars. Although the predominant cannabinoids, Δ9-THC and CBD, are thought to be the primary medicinal compounds, terpenes including the monoterpenes β-myrcene, α-pinene, limonene, and linalool, as well as the sesquiterpenes β-caryophyllene and α-humulene may contribute to many pharmacological properties of cannabis, including anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive effects.

The aim of this review is to summarize our current knowledge about terpene compounds in cannabis and to analyze the available scientific evidence for a role of cannabis-derived terpenes in modern pain management.

SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: Decades of research have improved our knowledge of cannabis polypharmacy and contributing phytochemicals, including terpenes. Reform of the legal status for cannabis possession and increased availability (medicinal and recreational) have resulted in cannabis use to combat the increasing prevalence of pain and may help to address the opioid crisis. Better understanding of the pharmacological effects of cannabis and its active components, including terpenes, may assist in identifying new therapeutic approaches and optimizing the use of cannabis and/or terpenes as analgesic agents.”

“Cannabis sativa has been used for medical, recreational, and spiritual purposes for thousands of years. Modern scientific studies have provided increasing amounts of preclinical and clinical evidence about its beneficial pharmacological effects, including pain relief. Recent changes in the legislation of cannabis usage and possession have resulted in cannabis-based products becoming widely used alternatives in fighting against many different illnesses. Medical marijuana has been applied to treat a host of indications, but the most frequent, and evidence-backed indication, is pain. Overall, cannabis terpenes have a high potential for pain management, alone or as adjunctive therapeutics, and are attractive compounds for the development of terpene-based analgesics given their generally-recognized-as-safe status with low side effect and toxicity profiles.”

Inflammaging and Cannabinoids

Ageing Research Reviews“Aging is a complex phenomenon associated with a wide spectrum of physical and physiological changes affecting every part of all metazoans, if they escape death prior to reaching maturity. Critical to survival, the immune system evolved as the principal component of response to injury and defense against pathogen invasions. Because how significantly immune system affects and is affected by aging, several neologisms now appear to encapsulate these reciprocal relationships, such as Immunosenescence. The central part of Immunosenescence is Inflammaging -a sustained, low-grade, sterile inflammation occurring after reaching reproductive prime. Once initiated, the impact of Inflammaging and its adverse effects determine the direction and magnitudes of further Inflammaging. In this article, we review the nature of this vicious cycle, we will propose that phytocannabinoids as immune regulators may possess the potential as effective adjunctive therapies to slow and, in certain cases, reverse the pathologic senescence to permit a more healthy aging.”

“The beneficial effects of cannabinoids may be considered as alternative therapy in treating age-related diseases.”

Alterations in Brain Cannabinoid Receptor Levels Are Associated with HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorders in the ART Era: Implications for Therapeutic Strategies Targeting the Endocannabinoid System

viruses-logo“HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) persist despite the advent of antiretroviral therapy (ART), suggesting underlying systemic and central nervous system (CNS) inflammatory mechanisms.

The endogenous cannabinoid receptors 1 and 2 (CB1 and CB2) modulate inflammatory gene expression and play an important role in maintaining neuronal homeostasis. Cannabis use is disproportionately high among people with HIV (PWH) and may provide a neuroprotective effect for those on ART due to its anti-inflammatory properties. However, expression profiles of CB1 and CB2 in the brains of PWH on ART with HAND have not been reported.

In this study, biochemical and immunohistochemical analyses were performed to determine CB1 and CB2 expression in the brain specimens of HAND donors.

Immunoblot revealed that CB1 and CB2 were differentially expressed in the frontal cortices of HAND brains compared to neurocognitively unimpaired (NUI) brains of PWH. CB1 expression levels negatively correlated with memory and information processing speed. CB1 was primarily localized to neuronal soma in HAND brains versus a more punctate distribution of neuronal processes in NUI brains. CB1 expression was increased in cells with glial morphology and showed increased colocalization with an astroglial marker.

These results suggest that targeting the endocannabinoid system may be a potential therapeutic strategy for HAND.”

Hepatic Cannabinoid Signaling in the Regulation of Alcohol-Associated Liver Disease

Logo of arcr“Purpose: The endocannabinoid system has emerged as a key regulatory signaling pathway in the pathophysiology of alcohol-associated liver disease (ALD). More than 30 years of research have established different roles of endocannabinoids and their receptors in various aspects of liver diseases, such as steatosis, inflammation, and fibrosis. However, pharmacological applications of the endocannabinoid system for the treatment of ALD have not been successful because of psychoactive side effects, despite some beneficial effects. Thus, a more delicate and detailed elucidation of the mechanism linking the endocannabinoid system and ALD may be of paramount significance in efforts to apply the system to the treatment of ALD.

Search results: According to the inclusion and exclusion criteria, the authors selected 47 eligible full-text articles out of 2,691 searched initially. Studies in the past 3 decades revealed the opposite effects of cannabinoid receptors CB1R and CB2R on steatosis, inflammation, and fibrosis in ALD.

Discussion and conclusions: This review summarizes the endocannabinoid signaling in the general physiology of the liver, the pathogenesis of ALD, and some of the potential therapeutic implications of cannabinoid-based treatments for ALD.”

“Over the past 30 years, it has been found that the endocannabinoid system is involved in a variety of pathways associated with the onset, or the progression, of several diseases, including ALD. The endocannabinoid system has been observed in both the hepatocytes and various nonparenchymal cells in the liver, in which the endocannabinoid production and its receptor activation may contribute to the development of a spectrum of ALD, ranging from simple alcoholic steatosis to more severe forms such as steatohepatitis and fibrosis. Therefore, understanding the precise physiology of the endocannabinoid system in the liver and unveiling the mechanism underlying the association between ALD progression and hepatic endocannabinoid signaling seem to bear a paramount significance for the advancement of ALD treatment, as well as for the treatment of other chronic liver diseases (e.g., NAFLD, viral hepatitis). Moreover, developing efficacious and highly selective cannabinoid receptor–modulating drugs could be a major breakthrough in the treatment of ALD.”

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is arcr-41-1-12f1.jpg

Novel CBG Derivatives Can Reduce Inflammation, Pain and Obesity

molecules-logo“Interest in CBG (cannabigerol) has been growing in the past few years, due to its anti-inflammatory properties and other therapeutic benefits.

Here we report the synthesis of three new CBG derivatives (HUM-223, HUM-233 and HUM-234) and show them to possess anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.

In addition, HUM-234 also prevents obesity in mice fed a high-fat diet (HFD). The metabolic state of the treated mice on HFD is significantly better than that of vehicle-treated mice, and their liver slices show significantly less steatosis than untreated HFD or CBG-treated ones from HFD mice.

We believe that HUM-223, HUM-233 and HUM-234 have the potential for development as novel drug candidates for the treatment of inflammatory conditions, and in the case of HUM-234, potentially for obesity where there is a huge unmet need.”

The potential of cannabinoids and inhibitors of endocannabinoid degradation in respiratory diseases

European Journal of Pharmacology“The global incidence of respiratory diseases and complications is increasing. Therefore, new methods of treatment, as well as prevention, need to be investigated.

A group of compounds that should be considered for use in respiratory diseases is cannabinoids. There are three groups of cannabinoids – plant-derived phytocannabinoids, synthetic cannabinoids, and endogenous endocannabinoids including the enzymes responsible for their synthesis and degradation.

All cannabinoids exert their biological effects through either type 1 cannabinoid receptors (CB1) and/or type 2 cannabinoid receptors (CB2). In numerous studies (in vitro and in vivo), cannabinoids and inhibitors of endocannabinoid degradation have shown beneficial anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-cancer, and anti-fibrotic properties.

Although in the respiratory system, most of the studies have focused on the positive properties of cannabinoids and inhibitors of endocannabinoid degradation. There are few research reports discussing the negative impact of these compounds. This review summarizes the properties and mechanisms of action of cannabinoids and inhibitors of endocannabinoid degradation in various models of respiratory diseases.

A short description of the effects selected cannabinoids have on the human respiratory system and their possible use in the fight against COVID-19 is also presented. Additionally, a brief summary is provided of cannabinoid receptors properties and their expression in the respiratory system and cells of the immune system.”

“Phytocannabinoids are terpenophenolic compounds produced by specialized parts of the Cannabis sativa plant and are found in high concentrations in marijuana and hashish. In most of models, these compounds have shown positive biological properties. Anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-cancer and anti-fibrotic actions are especially emphasized.”

Cannabidiol inhibits SARS-Cov-2 spike (S) protein-induced cytotoxicity and inflammation through a PPARγ-dependent TLR4/NLRP3/Caspase-1 signaling suppression in Caco-2 cell line

Phytotherapy Research“Given the abundancy of angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE-2) receptors density, beyond the lung, the intestine is considered as an alternative site of infection and replication for severe acute respiratory syndrome by coronavirus type 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

Cannabidiol (CBD) has recently been proposed in the management of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) respiratory symptoms because of its anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory activity exerted in the lung.

In this study, we demonstrated the in vitro PPAR-γ-dependent efficacy of CBD (10-9 -10-7 M) in preventing epithelial damage and hyperinflammatory response triggered by SARS-CoV-2 spike protein (SP) in a Caco-2 cells. Immunoblot analysis revealed that CBD was able to reduce all the analyzed proinflammatory markers triggered by SP incubation, such as tool-like receptor 4 (TLR-4), ACE-2, family members of Ras homologues A-GTPase (RhoA-GTPase), inflammasome complex (NLRP3), and Caspase-1.

CBD caused a parallel inhibition of interleukin 1 beta (IL-1β), IL-6, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), and IL-18 by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) assay. By immunofluorescence analysis, we observed increased expression of tight-junction proteins and restoration of transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER) following CBD treatment, as well as the rescue of fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-dextran permeability induced by SP.

Our data indicate, in conclusion, that CBD is a powerful inhibitor of SP protein enterotoxicity in vitro.”