The bright side of psychoactive substances: cannabinoid-based drugs in motor diseases.

“Psychoactive substances are associated with the idea of drugs with high addictive liability, affecting mental states, cognition, emotion and motor behavior. However these substances can modify synaptic transmission and help to disclose some mechanisms underlying alterations in brain processing and pathophysiology of motor disease. Hence, the “bright side” of cannabinoid-based drugs must be thoroughly examined to be identified within the latter framework.

We will analyze the preclinical and clinical evidence of cannabinoid-based drugs, discussing their therapeutic value in basal ganglia motor disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and Huntington disease.

Expert commentary: despite the knowledge acquired in the last years, the therapeutic potential of cannabinoid-based drugs should be further tested by novel routes of investigation. This should be focused on the role of cannabinoid signaling system in mitochondrial function as well as on the physical and functional interaction with other key receptorial targets belonging to this network.”

The cannabinoid quinol VCE-004.8 alleviates bleomycin-induced scleroderma and exerts potent antifibrotic effects through peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ and CB2 pathways.

“Scleroderma is a group of rare diseases associated with early and transient inflammation and vascular injury, followed by fibrosis affecting the skin and multiple internal organs.

Fibroblast activation is the hallmark of scleroderma, and disrupting the intracellular TGFβ signaling may provide a novel approach to controlling fibrosis.

Because of its potential role in modulating inflammatory and fibrotic responses, both PPARγ and CB2 receptors represent attractive targets for the development of cannabinoid-based therapies.

We have developed a non-thiophilic and chemically stable derivative of the CBD quinol (VCE-004.8) that behaves as a dual agonist of PPARγ and CB2 receptors, VCE-004.8 inhibited TGFβ-induced Col1A2 gene transcription and collagen synthesis. Moreover, VCE-004.8 inhibited TGFβ-mediated myofibroblast differentiation and impaired wound-healing activity.

The anti-fibrotic efficacy in vivo was investigated in a murine model of dermal fibrosis induced by bleomycin. VCE-004.8 reduced dermal thickness, blood vessels collagen accumulation and prevented mast cell degranulation and macrophage infiltration in the skin. These effects were impaired by the PPARγ antagonist T0070907 and the CB2 antagonist AM630.

In addition, VCE-004.8 downregulated the expression of several key genes associated with fibrosis, qualifying this semi-synthetic cannabinoid as a novel compound for the management of scleroderma and, potentially, other fibrotic diseases.”

Endocannabinoids and the Cardiovascular System in Health and Disease.

“The endocannabinoid system is widely distributed throughout the cardiovascular system.

Endocannabinoids play a minimal role in the regulation of cardiovascular function in normal conditions, but are altered in most cardiovascular disorders.

In shock, endocannabinoids released within blood mediate the associated hypotension through CB1 activation. In hypertension, there is evidence for changes in the expression of CB1, and CB1 antagonism reduces blood pressure in obese hypertensive and diabetic patients.

The endocannabinoid system is also upregulated in cardiac pathologies.

This is likely to be cardioprotective, via CB2 and CB1 (lesser extent).

In the vasculature, endocannabinoids cause vasorelaxation through activation of multiple target sites, inhibition of calcium channels, activation of potassium channels, NO production and the release of vasoactive substances. Changes in the expression or function of any of these pathways alter the vascular effect of endocannabinoids.

Endocannabinoids have positive (CB2) and negative effects (CB1) on the progression of atherosclerosis. However, any negative effects of CB1 may not be consequential, as chronic CB1 antagonism in large scale human trials was not associated with significant reductions in atheroma.

In neurovascular disorders such as stroke, endocannabinoids are upregulated and protective, involving activation of CB1, CB2, TRPV1 and PPARα.

Although most of this evidence is from preclinical studies, it seems likely that cannabinoid-based therapies could be beneficial in a range of cardiovascular disorders.”


“We recently reported that activation of endocannabinoid receptors attenuates cardiac myocyte hypertrophy. Mitochondrial dysfunction has emerged as a critical determinant of aberrant myocyte energy production in cardiac hypertrophy. Thus, we determined endocannabinoid influence on mitochondrial function in the hypertrophied cardiac myocyte…

The cardioprotective actions of liganded cannabinoid receptors extend to the mitochondrial level. Therefore, a cannabinoid-based treatment for cardiac disease remains a potential therapeutic strategy that warrants further study.”

The influence of cannabinoids on learning and memory processes of the dorsal striatum.

“Extensive evidence indicates that the mammalian endocannabinoid system plays an integral role in learning and memory…

A tentative conclusion based on the available data is that acute disruption of the endocannabinoid system with either agonists or antagonists impairs, whereas chronic cannabinoid exposure enhances, dorsal striatum-dependent S-R/habit memory.

CB1 receptors are required for multiple forms of striatal synaptic plasticity implicated in memory, including short-term and long-term depression.

Interactions with the hippocampus-dependent memory system may also have a role in some of the observed effects of cannabinoids on habit memory.

The impairing effect often observed with acute cannabinoid administration argues for cannabinoid-based treatments for human psychopathologies associated with a dysfunctional habit memory system (e.g. post-traumatic stress disorder and drug addiction/relapse).”

Promising cannabinoid-based therapies for Parkinson’s disease: motor symptoms to neuroprotection.

“Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a slow insidious neurological disorder characterized by a loss of dopaminergic neurons in the midbrain. Although several recent preclinical advances have proposed to treat PD, there is hardly any clinically proved new therapeutic for its cure.

Increasing evidence suggests a prominent modulatory function of the cannabinoid signaling system in the basal ganglia. Hence, use of cannabinoids as a new therapeutic target has been recommended as a promising therapy for PD.

The elements of the endocannabinoid system are highly expressed in the neural circuit of basal ganglia wherein they bidirectionally interact with dopaminergic, glutamatergic, and GABAergic signaling systems.

As the cannabinoid signaling system undergoes a biphasic pattern of change during progression of PD, it explains the motor inhibition typically observed in patients with PD.

Cannabinoid agonists such as WIN-55,212-2 have been demonstrated experimentally as neuroprotective agents in PD, with respect to their ability to suppress excitotoxicity, glial activation, and oxidative injury that causes degeneration of dopaminergic neurons.

Additional benefits provided by cannabinoid related compounds including CE-178253, oleoylethanolamide, nabilone and HU-210 have been reported to possess efficacy against bradykinesia and levodopa-induced dyskinesia in PD.

Despite promising preclinical studies for PD, use of cannabinoids has not been studied extensively at the clinical level. In this review, we reassess the existing evidence suggesting involvement of the endocannabinoid system in the cause, symptomatology, and treatment of PD. We will try to identify future threads of research that will help in the understanding of the potential therapeutic benefits of the cannabinoid system for treating PD.”

“To conclude, development of safe, effective cannabis-based medicines targeting different mechanisms may have a significant impact in PD therapy.”


Cannabinoids in late-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

“Given the lack of effective treatments for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD) and the substantial burden on patients, families, healthcare systems, and economies, finding an effective therapy is one of the highest medical priorities.

The past few years have seen a growing interest in the medicinal uses of cannabinoids, the bioactive components of the cannabis plant, including the treatment of LOAD and other physical conditions that are common in older people.

Several in vitro and in vivo studies have demonstrated that cannabinoids can reduce oxidative stress, neuroinflammation, and the formation of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, the key hallmarks of LOAD.

Also, in population-based studies, cannabinoids reduced dementia-related symptoms (e.g., behavioral disturbances).

The current article provides an overview of the potential of cannabinoids in the treatment of LOAD and related neuropsychiatric symptoms in older people.

We also discuss the efficacy, safety and pharmacokinetics of cannabinoid-based drugs in older people with dementia.”

Researchers Meet to Discuss Cannabinoid-Based Stroke Therapy

Murikinati et al., 2010 shows that brain tissue is saved after a stroke with JWH-133

“The Cannabinoid Discussion Group at Temple University met for the second time this semester to review a recent scientific publication from a German Laboratory. The presenter was Zachary Reichenbach, an MD/Ph.D student at Temple, who is currently working in the laboratory of Dr.Ron Tuma. The Tuma lab is focused on studying cannabinoid based therapies for the treatment of cerebral ischemia resulting from stroke. Mr.Reichenbach led the discussion on a research paper which showed that the cannabinoid JWH-133 activates the cannabinoid type 2 receptor (CB2R), resulting a decrease in infarct size or brain damage duringreperfusion following an ischemic event.

Mr.Reichenbach provided background on stroke, stating that it is the 3rd cause of death in this country, and 85% of those strokes are of the ischemic variety. During an ischemic event there is a hyper-immune response resulting in the recruitment of immune cells that kill brain tissue. Cannabinoids have been shown to modulate the immune system, notably the Tuma lab has published data on the CB2 receptor’s anti-inflammatory effects. Activating the CB2 receptor decreases the migration of hyper-immune cells to the brain. The more brain you save, the more you save someone from disabilities or death.

When asked about the implications of these findings on a cannabinoid that could be a potential stroke therapy, Mr.Reichenbach replied that the results of his work and others is promising…

And just in case you were wondering, THC, the active ingredient in Cannabis, activates both the CB1 and CB2 receptor.”

Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis disrupts endocannabinoid-mediated neuroprotection

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“Focal cerebral ischemia and traumatic brain injury induce an escalating amount of cell death because of harmful mediators diffusing from the original lesion site.

Evidence suggests that healthy cells surrounding these lesions attempt to protect themselves by producing endocannabinoids (eCBs) and activating cannabinoid receptors, the molecular target for marijuana-derived compounds.

Indeed, activation of cannabinoid receptors reduces the production and diffusion of harmful mediators.

Here, we provide evidence that an exception to this pattern is found in experimental autoimmuneencephalomyelitis (EAE), a mouse model of multiple sclerosis…

Our data suggest that the high level of CNS IFN-gamma associated with EAE disrupts eCB-mediated neuroprotection while maintaining functional cannabinoid receptors, thus providing additional support for the use of cannabinoid-based medicine to treat multiple sclerosis.”

Cannabinoids induce glioma stem-like cell differentiation and inhibit gliomagenesis.

“Glioma stem-like cells constitute one of the potential origins of gliomas, and therefore, their elimination is an essential factor for the development of efficient therapeutic strategies.

Cannabinoids are known to exert an antitumoral action on gliomas that relies on at least two mechanisms: induction of apoptosis of transformed cells and inhibition of tumor angiogenesis…

The discovery of an endogenous cannabinoid system, together with the great improvement in our understanding of the signaling mechanisms responsible for cannabinoid actions, has fostered the interest in the potential therapeutic applications of cannabinoids.

Several studies have demonstrated a significant antitumoral action of cannabinoid ligands in animal models. Thus, cannabinoid administration to nude mice curbs the growth of different tumors, including gliomas…

Cannabinoids are known to exert an antitumoral action against gliomas…

Overall, our results demonstrate that cannabinoids target glioma stem-like cells, promote their differentiation, and inhibit gliomagenesis, thus giving further support to their potential use in the management of malignant gliomas.

In conclusion, our results demonstrate the action of cannabinoids on glioma stem-like cells and thus may open new avenues for cannabinoid-based antitumoral strategies.”