Modulation of the Oxidative Stress and Lipid Peroxidation by Endocannabinoids and Their Lipid Analogues.


“Growing evidence supports the pivotal role played by oxidative stress in tissue injury development, thus resulting in several pathologies including cardiovascular, renal, neuropsychiatric, and neurodegenerative disorders, all characterized by an altered oxidative status. Reactive oxygen and nitrogen species and lipid peroxidation-derived reactive aldehydes including acrolein, malondialdehyde, and 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal, among others, are the main responsible for cellular and tissue damages occurring in redox-dependent processes.

In this scenario, a link between the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and redox homeostasis impairment appears to be crucial. Anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol, the best characterized endocannabinoids, are able to modulate the activity of several antioxidant enzymes through targeting the cannabinoid receptors type 1 and 2 as well as additional receptors such as the transient receptor potential vanilloid 1, the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha, and the orphan G protein-coupled receptors 18 and 55.

Moreover, the endocannabinoids lipid analogues N-acylethanolamines showed to protect cell damage and death from reactive aldehydes-induced oxidative stress by restoring the intracellular oxidants-antioxidants balance. In this review, we will provide a better understanding of the main mechanisms triggered by the cross-talk between the oxidative stress and the ECS, focusing also on the enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidants as scavengers of reactive aldehydes and their toxic bioactive adducts.”

Cannabinoid CB2 receptors are involved in the protection of RAW264.7 macrophages against the oxidative stress: an in vitro study.

Image result for European Journal of Histochemistry

“Research in the last decades has widely investigated the anti-oxidant properties of natural products as a therapeutic approach for the prevention and the treatment of oxidative-stress related disorders.

In this context, several studies were aimed to evaluate the therapeutic potential of phytocannabinoids, the bioactive compounds of Cannabis sativa.

Here, we examined the anti-oxidant ability of Cannabigerol (CBG), a non-psychotropic cannabinoid, still little known, into counteracting the hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)-induced oxidative stress in murine RAW264.7 macrophages. In addition, we tested selective receptor antagonists for cannabinoid receptors and specifically CB1R (SR141716A) and CB2R (AM630) in order to investigate through which CBG may exert its action.

Taken together, our in vitro results showed that CBG is able to counteract oxidative stress by activation of CB2 receptors.

Based on its antioxidant activities, CBG may hold great promise as an anti-oxidant agent and therefore used in clinical practice as a new approach in oxidative-stress related disorders.”

Cannabinoids protect cells from oxidative cell death: a receptor-independent mechanism.

Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics

“Serum is required for the survival and growth of most animal cells. In serum-free medium, B lymphoblastoid cells and fibroblasts die after 2 days.

We report that submicromolar concentrations of Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), Delta(8)-THC, cannabinol, or cannabidiol, but not WIN 55,212-2, prevented serum-deprived cell death. Delta(9)-THC also synergized with platelet-derived growth factor in activating resting NIH 3T3 fibroblasts.

The cannabinoids‘ growth supportive effect did not correlate with their ability to bind to known cannabinoid receptors and showed no stereoselectivity, suggesting a nonreceptor-mediated pathway.

Direct measurement of oxidative stress revealed that cannabinoids prevented serum-deprived cell death by antioxidation.

The antioxidative property of cannabinoids was confirmed by their ability to antagonize oxidative stress and consequent cell death induced by the retinoid anhydroretinol.

Therefore, cannabinoids act as antioxidants to modulate cell survival and growth of B lymphocytes and fibroblasts.”

Oxyradical Stress, Endocannabinoids, and Atherosclerosis.

“Atherosclerosis is responsible for most cardiovascular disease (CVD) and is caused by several factors including hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and chronic inflammation.

Oxidants and electrophiles have roles in the pathophysiology of atherosclerosis and the concentrations of these reactive molecules are an important factor in disease initiation and progression.

Overactive NADPH oxidase (Nox) produces excess superoxide resulting in oxidized macromolecules, which is an important factor in atherogenesis. Although superoxide and reactive oxygen species (ROS) have obvious toxic properties, they also have fundamental roles in signaling pathways that enable cells to adapt to stress.

In addition to inflammation and ROS, the endocannabinoid system (eCB) is also important in atherogenesis.

Linkages have been postulated between the eCB system, Nox, oxidative stress, and atherosclerosis.

For instance, CB2 receptor-evoked signaling has been shown to upregulate anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative pathways, whereas CB1 signaling appears to induce opposite effects.

The second messenger lipid molecule diacylglycerol is implicated in the regulation of Nox activity and diacylglycerol lipase β (DAGLβ) is a key biosynthetic enzyme in the biosynthesis eCB ligand 2-arachidonylglycerol (2-AG).

Furthermore, Nrf2 is a vital transcription factor that protects against the cytotoxic effects of both oxidant and electrophile stress.

This review will highlight the role of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in intracellular signaling and the impact of deregulated ROS-mediated signaling in atherogenesis.

In addition, there is also emerging knowledge that the eCB system has an important role in atherogenesis.

We will attempt to integrate oxidative stress and the eCB system into a conceptual framework that provides insights into this pathology.”

Neuroprotective effect of (-)Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol in N-methyl-D-aspartate-induced retinal neurotoxicity: involvement of peroxynitrite.

“In glaucoma, the increased release of glutamate is the major cause of retinal ganglion cell death. Cannabinoids have been demonstrated to protect neuron cultures from glutamate-induced death.

In this study, we test the hypothesis that glutamate causes apoptosis of retinal neurons via the excessive formation of peroxynitrite, and that the neuroprotective effect of the psychotropic Delta9-tetrahydroxycannabinol (THC) or nonpsychotropic cannabidiol (CBD) is via the attenuation of this formation.

These results suggest the potential use of CBD as a novel topical therapy for the treatment of glaucoma.

“Cannabinoid components of marijuana, such as (−)Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), or the synthetic cannabinoid WIN55,212-2, have been shown to prevent glutamate- or NMDA-induced neurotoxicity in isolated neurons or in the brain via activation of the cannabinoid receptor subtype CB1.

…the nonpsychotropic component of marijuana, cannabidiol (CBD), and the synthetic nonpsychotropic cannabinoid, HU-211, as well as THC have been demonstrated as potent antioxidants and/or NMDA receptor antagonists that protect neuron cultures from glutamate-induced death or from oxidative stress.

… we demonstrated that THC and CBD are neuroprotective against NMDA-induced retinal injury and that their protective actions are in part because of an effect in reducing formation of lipid peroxides, nitrite/nitrate, and nitrotyrosine.

In addition to possessing neuroprotective or retinal neuroprotective activity as demonstrated here and elsewhere, cannabinoids such as THC, WIN55,212-2, endogenous cannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol, as well as nonpsychotropic HU-211 have been demonstrated to induce dose-related reductions in intraocular pressure in human and in animal models.

 This suggests that cannabinoids may offer a multifaceted therapy for glaucoma.

In conclusion, our results indicate that lipid peroxidation and ONOO− formation play an important role in NMDA-induced retinal neurotoxicity and cell loss in the retina, and that THC and CBD, by reducing the formation of these compounds, are effective neuroprotectants.

The present studies could form the basis for the development of new topical therapies for the treatment of glaucoma.”

Neuroprotective Effect of(−)Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol and Cannabidiol in N-Methyl-d-Aspartate-Induced Retinal Neurotoxicity

“In glaucoma, the increased release of glutamate is the major cause of retinal ganglion cell death. Cannabinoids have been demonstrated to protect neuron cultures from glutamate-induced death.

In this study, we test the hypothesis that glutamate causes apoptosis of retinal neurons via the excessive formation of peroxynitrite, and that the neuroprotective effect of the psychotropic Δ9-tetrahydroxycannabinol (THC) or nonpsychotropic cannabidiol (CBD) is via the attenuation of this formation…

The neuroprotection by THC and CBD was because of attenuation of peroxynitrite.

The effect of THC was in part mediated by the cannabinoid receptor CB1.

These results suggest the potential use of CBD as a novel topical therapy for the treatment of glaucoma.

THC and CBD, are similarly potent antioxidants that protect neuron cultures from glutamate-induced cell death or oxidative stress…

In addition to possessing neuroprotective or retinal neuroprotective activity… cannabinoids, such as THC, have been demonstrated to induce dose-related reductions in intraocular pressure in human and in animal models. 

This suggests that cannabinoids may offer a multifaceted therapy for glaucoma.

In conclusion, our results indicate that lipid peroxidation and ONOO− formation play an important role in NMDA-induced retinal neurotoxicity and cell loss in the retina, and that THC and CBD, by reducing the formation of these compounds, are effective neuroprotectants.

The present studies could form the basis for the development of new topical therapies for the treatment of glaucoma.”


“Phytocannabinoids, also called ”natural cannabinoids”, ”herbal cannabinoids”, and ”classical cannabinoids”, are only known to occur naturally in significant quantity in the cannabis plant, and are concentrated in a viscous resin that is produced in glandular structures known as trichomes.

In addition to cannabinoids, the resin is rich in terpenes, which are largely responsible for the odour of the cannabis plant.

Phytocannabinoids are nearly insoluble in water but are soluble in lipids, alcohols, and other non-polar organic solvents. However, as phenols, they form more water-soluble phenolate salts under strongly alkaline conditions.

All-natural cannabinoids are derived from their respective 2-carboxylic acids (2-COOH) by decarboxylation (catalyzed by heat, light, or alkaline conditions).


At least 66 cannabinoids have been isolated from the cannabis plant. To the right the main classes of natural cannabinoids are shown. All classes derive from cannabigerol-type compounds and differ mainly in the way this precursor is cyclized.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN) are the most prevalent natural cannabinoids and have received the most study. Other common cannabinoids are listed below:

  • CBG Cannabigerol
  • CBC Cannabichromene
  • CBL Cannabicyclol
  • CBV Cannabivarin
  • THCV Tetrahydrocannabivarin
  • CBDV Cannabidivarin
  • CBCV Cannabichromevarin
  • CBGV Cannabigerovarin
  • CBGM Cannabigerol Monoethyl Ether


Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the primary psychoactive component of the plant. It appears to ease moderate pain (analgetic) and to be neuroprotective. THC has approximately equal affinity for the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Its effects are perceived to be more cerebral.

”Delta”-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC, THC) and ”delta”-8-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ8-THC), mimic the action of anandamide, a neurotransmitter produced naturally in the body. The THCs produce the ”high” associated with cannabis by binding to the CB1 cannabinoid receptors in the brain.


Cannabidiol (CBD) is not psychoactive, and was thought not to affect the psychoactivity of THC. However, recent evidence shows that smokers of cannabis with a higher CBD/THC ratio were less likely to experience schizophrenia-like symptoms.

This is supported by psychological tests, in which participants experience less intense psychotic effects when intravenous THC was co-administered with CBD (as measured with a PANSS test).

It has been hypothesized that CBD acts as an allosteric antagonist at the CB1 receptor and thus alters the psychoactive effects of THC.

It appears to relieve convulsion, inflammation, anxiety, and nausea. CBD has a greater affinity for the CB2 receptor than for the CB1 receptor.


Cannabigerol (CBG) is non-psychotomimetic but still affects the overall effects of Cannabis. It acts as an α2-adrenergic receptor agonist, 5-HT1A receptor antagonist, and CB1 receptor antagonist. It also binds to the CB2 receptor.


Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) is prevalent in certain South African and Southeast Asian strains of Cannabis. It is an antagonist of THC at CB1 receptors and attenuates the psychoactive effects of THC.


Cannabichromene (CBC) is non-psychoactive and does not affect the psychoactivity of THC It is found in nearly all tissues in a wide range of animals.

Two analogs of anandamide, 7,10,13,16-docosatetraenoylethanolamide and ”homo”-γ-linolenoylethanolamine, have similar pharmacology.

All of these are members of a family of signalling lipids called ”N”-acylethanolamides, which also includes the noncannabimimetic palmitoylethanolamide and oleoylethanolamine, which possess anti-inflammatory and orexigenic effects, respectively. Many ”N”-acylethanolamines have also been identified in plant seeds and in molluscs.

  • 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG)

Another endocannabinoid, 2-arachidonoyl glycerol, binds to both the CB1 and CB2 receptors with similar affinity, acting as a full agonist at both, and there is some controversy over whether 2-AG rather than anandamide is chiefly responsible for endocannabinoid signalling ”in vivo”.

In particular, one ”in vitro” study suggests that 2-AG is capable of stimulating higher G-protein activation than anandamide, although the physiological implications of this finding are not yet known.

  • 2-arachidonyl glyceryl ether (noladin ether)

In 2001, a third, ether-type endocannabinoid, 2-arachidonyl glyceryl ether (noladin ether), was isolated from porcine brain.

Prior to this discovery, it had been synthesized as a stable analog of 2-AG; indeed, some controversy remains over its classification as an endocannabinoid, as another group failed to detect the substance at “any appreciable amount” in the brains of several different mammalian species.

It binds to the CB1 cannabinoid receptor (”K”i = 21.2 nmol/L) and causes sedation, hypothermia, intestinal immobility, and mild antinociception in mice. It binds primarily to the CB1 receptor, and only weakly to the CB2 receptor.

Like anandamide, NADA is also an agonist for the vanilloid receptor subtype 1 (TRPV1), a member of the vanilloid receptor family.

  • Virodhamine (OAE)

A fifth endocannabinoid, virodhamine, or ”O”-arachidonoyl-ethanolamine (OAE), was discovered in June 2002. Although it is a full agonist at CB2 and a partial agonist at CB1, it behaves as a CB1 antagonist ”in vivo”.

In rats, virodhamine was found to be present at comparable or slightly lower concentrations than anandamide in the brain, but 2- to 9-fold higher concentrations peripherally.


Endocannabinoids serve as intercellular ‘lipid messengers’, signaling molecules that are released from one cell and activate the cannabinoid receptors present on other nearby cells.

Although in this intercellular signaling role they are similar to the well-known monoamine neurotransmitters, such as acetylcholine and dopamine, endocannabinoids differ in numerous ways from them. For instance, they use retrograde signaling.

Furthermore, endocannabinoids are lipophilic molecules that are not very soluble in water. They are not stored in vesicles, and exist as integral constituents of the membrane bilayers that make up cells. They are believed to be synthesized ‘on-demand’ rather than made and stored for later use.

The mechanisms and enzymes underlying the biosynthesis of endocannabinoids remain elusive and continue to be an area of active research.

The endocannabinoid 2-AG has been found in bovine and human maternal milk.

Retrograde signal

Conventional neurotransmitters are released from a ‘presynaptic’ cell and activate appropriate receptors on a ‘postsynaptic’ cell, where presynaptic and postsynaptic designate the sending and receiving sides of a synapse, respectively.

Endocannabinoids, on the other hand, are described as retrograde transmitters because they most commonly travel ‘backwards’ against the usual synaptic transmitter flow.

They are, in effect, released from the postsynaptic cell and act on the presynaptic cell, where the target receptors are densely concentrated on axonal terminals in the zones from which conventional neurotransmitters are released.

Activation of cannabinoid receptors temporarily reduces the amount of conventional neurotransmitter released.

This endocannabinoid mediated system permits the postsynaptic cell to control its own incoming synaptic traffic.

The ultimate effect on the endocannabinoid-releasing cell depends on the nature of the conventional transmitter being controlled.

For instance, when the release of the inhibitory transmitter GABA is reduced, the net effect is an increase in the excitability of the endocannabinoid-releasing cell.

On the converse, when release of the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate is reduced, the net effect is a decrease in the excitability of the endocannabinoid-releasing cell.


Endocannabinoids are hydrophobic molecules. They cannot travel unaided for long distances in the aqueous medium surrounding the cells from which they are released, and therefore act locally on nearby target cells. Hence, although emanating diffusely from their source cells, they have much more restricted spheres of influence than do hormones, which can affect cells throughout the body.

Other thoughts

Endocannabinoids constitute a versatile system for affecting neuronal network properties in the nervous system.

”Scientific American” published an article in December 2004, entitled “The Brain’s Own Marijuana” discussing the endogenous cannabinoid system.

The current understanding recognizes the role that endocannabinoids play in almost every major life function in the human body.

U.S. Patent # 6630507

In 2003 The U.S.A.’s Government as represented by the Department of Health and Human Services was awarded a patent on cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants. U.S. Patent 6630507.”

Neuroprotective antioxidants from marijuana.

“Cannabidiol and other cannabinoids were examined as neuroprotectants in rat cortical neuron cultures exposed to toxic levels of the neurotransmitter, glutamate.

The psychotropic cannabinoid receptor agonist delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol, (a non-psychoactive constituent of marijuana), both reduced NMDA, AMPA and kainate receptor mediated neurotoxicities.

Neuroprotection was not affected by cannabinoid receptor antagonist, indicating a (cannabinoid) receptor-independent mechanism of action. Glutamate toxicity can be reduced by antioxidants. Using cyclic voltametry and a fenton reaction based system,

it was demonstrated that Cannabidiol, THC and other cannabinoids are potent antioxidants. As evidence that cannabinoids can act as an antioxidants in neuronal cultures,

 cannabidiol was demonstrated to reduce hydroperoxide toxicity in neurons.

In a head to head trial of the abilities of various antioxidants to prevent glutamate toxicity, cannabidiol was superior to both alpha-tocopherol and ascorbate in protective capacity.

Recent preliminary studies in a rat model of focal cerebral ischemia suggest that cannabidiol may be at least as effective in vivo as seen in these in vitro studies.”

Media Ignored Expert’s Shocking Findings That Marijuana Helps Prevent Lung Cancer: Now It’s Med-School Material

  “You’d think it would have been very big news in the spring of 2005 when Donald Tashkin, a professor of pulmonology at UCLA’s David Geffin School of Medicine, revealed at a conference that components of marijuana smoke, although they damage cells in respiratory tissue, somehow prevent them from becoming malignant. But headlines announcing “Pot Doesn’t Cause Cancer” did not ensue. ”

“As to the highly promising implication of his own study — that something in marijuana stops damaged cells from becoming malignant — Tashkin noted that an anti-proliferative effect of THC has been observed in cell-culture systems and animal models of brain, breast, prostate, and lung cancer. THC has been shown to promote known apoptosis (damaged cells die instead of reproducing) and to counter angiogenesis (the process by which blood vessels are formed — a requirement of tumor growth). Other antioxidants in cannabis may also be involved in countering malignancy, Tashkin said.”

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