Perspectives on the Role of Endocannabinoids in Autism Spectrum Disorders.

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“Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are diagnosed on the basis of three behavioral features, namely, (1) deficits in social communication, (2) absence or delay in language and (3) stereotypy. The consensus regarding the neurological pathogenesis of ASDs is aberrant synaptogenesis and synapse function. Further, it is now widely accepted that ASD is neurodevelopmental in nature, placing emphasis on derangements occurring at the level of intra- and intercellular signaling during corticogenesis. At present, there is an ever-growing list of mutations in putative susceptibility genes in affected individuals, preventing effective transformation of knowledge gathered from basic science research to the clinic. In response, the focus of ASD biology has shifted toward the identification of cellular signaling pathways that are common to various ASD-related mutations in hopes that these shared pathways may serve as more promising treatment targets than targeting individual genes or proteins. To this end, the endogenous cannabinoid (endocannabinoid, eCB) system has recently emerged as a promising therapeutic target in the field of ASD research. The eCB system is altered in several neurological disorders, but the role of these bioactive lipids in ASD etiology remains poorly understood. In this perspective, we review current evidence linking eCB signaling to ASDs and put forth the notion that continued focus on eCBs in autism research may provide valuable insight into pathophysiology and treatment strategies. In addition to its role in modulating transmitter release at mature synapses, the eCB signaling system plays important roles in many aspects of cortical development, and disruption of these effects of eCBs may also be related to ASD pathophysiology.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30854511

“Advances in our understanding of eCB actions will undoubtedly facilitate pharmacological interventions and further, provide patients the best quality of life possible.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6407886/

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Members of the endocannabinoid system are distinctly regulated in inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer.

Scientific Reports

“Preclinical studies have demonstrated that the endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays an important role in the protection against intestinal inflammation and colorectal cancer (CRC); however, human data are scarce. We determined members of the ECS and related components of the ‘endocannabinoidome’ in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and CRC, and compared them to control subjects. Anandamide (AEA) and oleoylethanolamide (OEA) were increased in plasma of ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease (CD) patients while 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) was elevated in patients with CD, but not UC. 2-AG, but not AEA, PEA and OEA, was elevated in CRC patients. Lysophosphatidylinositol (LPI) 18:0 showed higher levels in patients with IBD than in control subjects whereas LPI 20:4 was elevated in both CRC and IBD. Gene expression in intestinal mucosal biopsies revealed different profiles in CD and UC. CD, but not UC patients, showed increased gene expression for the 2-AG synthesizing enzyme diacylglycerol lipase alpha. Transcripts of CNR1 and GPR119 were predominantly decreased in CD. Our data show altered plasma levels of endocannabinoids and endocannabinoid-like lipids in IBD and CRC and distinct transcript profiles in UC and CD. We also report alterations for less known components in intestinal inflammation, such as GPR119, OEA and LPI.”

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Novel protective effect of O-1602 and abnormal cannabidiol, GPR55 agonists, on ER stress-induced apoptosis in pancreatic β-cells.

Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy

“Insulin resistance and β-cell dysfunction are the main defects in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM), and β-cell dysfunction and apoptosis is the critical determinant in the progression of T2DM. G-protein coupled receptor 55 (GPR55) is an orphan G-protein coupled receptor, which is activated by endocannabinoids and lipid transmitters. Recently, GPR55 was shown to regulate glucose and energy homeostasis, however its role in β-cell apoptosis was not studied. Therefore, in this study, we investigated the novel effect of GPR55 agonists, O-1602 and abnormal cannabidiol (Abn-CBD), on endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress-induced apoptosis in mouse pancreatic β-cell lines, MIN6 and Beta-TC-6, and its underlying mechanisms. Our results showed that O-1602 and Abn-CBD reduced ER stress-induced apoptosis in MIN6 and Beta-TC-6 cells. This was through the phosphorylation of 3′-5′-cyclic adenosine monophosphate response element-binding protein (CREB) in β-cells, hence activating CREB downstream anti-apoptotic genes, Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL. Moreover, O-1602 and Abn-CBD directly activated kinases, CaMKIV, Erk1/2 and PKA, to induce CREB phosphorylation. Therefore, our results indicated that GPR55 agonists protected from β-cell apoptosis through CREB activation, thus up-regulating anti-apoptotic genes. In conclusion, our study provided a novel protective effect of GPR55 agonists on ER stress-induced apoptosis in β-cells and its underlying mechanisms mediating this protection, therefore we suggested that GPR55 might be a therapeutic target for T2DM.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30841431

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0753332218375668?via%3Dihub

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Second Cannabinoid Receptor Has the Yin to the First Receptor’s Yang

“Understanding the diverse effects that cannabis has on the human body is imperative if we hope to take advantage of its medicinal properties to treat various disorders. As such, elucidating the molecular structure of the receptors that bind endocannabinoids is a critical step toward developing selective drugs that can differentiate between the two known receptors—CB1 and CB2—for these molecules. Since the structure of the CB1 receptor was resolved a few years ago, an international team of researchers led by scientists at the iHuman Institute within ShanghaiTech University has just published the crystal structure of the human type 2 cannabinoid receptor, CB2.

Findings from the new study—published recently in Cell through an article titled “Crystal Structure of the Human Cannabinoid Receptor CB2”—should be helpful in the development of drugs against inflammatory, neurodegenerative, and other diseases. The study authors compared the newly discovered structure to that of the CB1 receptor, deeming the two receptors to be the “yin and yang” of the human endocannabinoid system.”

“Crystal Structure of the Human Cannabinoid Receptor CB1” https://www.cell.com/fulltext/S0092-8674(16)31385-X
“Crystal Structure of the Human Cannabinoid Receptor CB2” https://www.cell.com/cell/pdf/S0092-8674(18)31625-8.pdf
“This study compares newly discovered structures to those of the CB1 receptor, and deems the two receptors to be the Yin and Yang of the human endocannabinoid system, which is a signalling system that regulates biological processes such as pain, immune function, metabolism, and neuronal activities among others.” https://www.worldhealth.net/news/ying-yang-second-cannabinoid-receptor/
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Plant-Based Modulators of Endocannabinoid Signaling.

Journal of Natural Products

“Extracts from Cannabis species have aided the discovery of the endocannabinoid signaling system (ECSS) and phytocannabinoids that possess broad therapeutic potential. Whereas the reinforcing effects of C. sativa are largely attributed to CB1 receptor agonism by Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC), the observed medicinal effects of Cannabis arise from the combined actions of various compounds. In addition to compounds bearing a classical cannabinoid structure, naturally occurring fatty acid amides and esters resembling anandamide and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol isolated from non- Cannabis species are also valuable tools for studying ECSS function. This review highlights the potential of plant-based secondary metabolites from Cannabis and unrelated species as ECSS modulators.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30816712

https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.jnatprod.8b00874

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Lower circulating endocannabinoid levels in children with autism spectrum disorder.

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“The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a major regulator of synaptic plasticity and neuromodulation. Alterations of the ECS have been demonstrated in several animal models of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In some of these models, activating the ECS rescued the social deficits. Evidence for dysregulations of the ECS in human ASD are emerging, but comprehensive assessments and correlations with disease characteristics have not been reported yet.

METHODS:

Serum levels of the main endocannabinoids, N-arachidonoylethanolamine (AEA or anandamide) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), and their related endogenous compounds, arachidonic acid (AA), N-palmitoylethanolamine (PEA), and N-oleoylethanolamine (OEA), were analyzed by liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry in 93 children with ASD (age = 13.1 ± 4.1, range 6-21; 79% boys) and 93 age- and gender-matched neurotypical children (age = 11.8 ± 4.3, range 5.5-21; 79% boys). Results were associated with gender and use of medications, and were correlated with age, BMI, and adaptive functioning of ASD participants as reflected by scores of Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS-2), Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale-II (VABS-II), and Social Responsiveness Scale-II (SRS-2).

RESULTS:

Children with ASD had lower levels (pmol/mL, mean ± SEM) of AEA (0.722 ± 0.045 vs. 1.252 ± 0.072, P < 0.0001, effect size 0.91), OEA (17.3 ± 0.80 vs. 27.8 ± 1.44, P < 0.0001, effect size 0.94), and PEA (4.93 ± 0.32 vs. 7.15 ± 0.37, P < 0.0001, effect size 0.65), but not AA and 2-AG. Serum levels of AEA, OEA, and PEA were not significantly associated or correlated with age, gender, BMI, medications, and adaptive functioning of ASD participants. In children with ASD, but not in the control group, younger age and lower BMI tended to correlate with lower AEA levels. However, these correlations were not statistically significant after a correction for multiple comparisons.

CONCLUSIONS:

We found lower serum levels of AEA, PEA, and OEA in children with ASD. Further studies are needed to determine whether circulating endocannabinoid levels can be used as stratification biomarkers that identify clinically significant subgroups within the autism spectrum and if they reflect lower endocannabinoid “tone” in the brain, as found in animal models of ASD.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30728928

https://molecularautism.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13229-019-0256-6

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Cutting Edge: Dysregulated Endocannabinoid-Rheostat for Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cell Activation in a Systemic Lupus Endophenotype.

The Journal of Immunology

“Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a systemic autoimmune disease, characterized by loss of tolerance toward self nuclear Ags. Systemic induction of type I IFNs plays a pivotal role in SLE, a major source of type I IFNs being the plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs). Several genes have been linked with susceptibility to SLE in genome-wide association studies. We aimed at exploring the role of one such gene, α/β-hydrolase domain-containing 6 (ABHD6), in regulation of IFN-α induction in SLE patients. We discovered a regulatory role of ABHD6 in human pDCs through modulating the local abundance of its substrate, the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonyl glycerol (2-AG), and elucidated a hitherto unknown cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2)-mediated regulatory role of 2-AG on IFN-α induction by pDCs. We also identified an ABHD6High SLE endophenotype wherein reduced local abundance of 2-AG relieves the CB2-mediated steady-state resistive tuning on IFN-α induction by pDCs, thereby contributing to SLE pathogenesis.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30728209

http://www.jimmunol.org/content/early/2019/02/05/jimmunol.1801521

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Synergistic action of CB1 and 5-HT2B receptors in preventing pilocarpine-induced status epilepticus in rats.

Neurobiology of Disease

“Endocannabinoids (eCBs) and serotonin (5-HT) play a neuromodulatory role in the central nervous system. Both eCBs and 5-HT regulate neuronal excitability and their pharmacological potentiation has been shown to control seizures in pre-clinical and human studies.

Compelling evidence indicates that eCB and 5-HT systems interact to modulate several physiological and pathological brain functions, such as food intake, pain, drug addiction, depression, and anxiety.

Nevertheless, there is no evidence of an eCB/5-HT interaction in experimental and human epilepsies, including status epilepticus (SE). Here, we performed video-EEG recording in behaving rats treated with the pro-convulsant agent pilocarpine (PILO), in order to study the effect of the activation of CB1/5-HT2receptors and their interaction on SE.

Synthetic cannabinoid agonist WIN55,212-2 (WIN) decreased behavioral seizure severity of PILO-induced SE at 2 mg/kg (but not at 1 and 5 mg/kg, i.p.), while 5-HT2B/2C receptor agonist RO60-0175 (RO; 1, 3, 10 mg/kg, i.p.) was devoid of any effect. RO 3 mg/kg was instead capable of potentiating the effect of WIN 2 mg/kg on the Racine scale score.

Surprisingly, neither WIN 2 mg/kg nor RO 3 mg/kg had any effect on the incidence and the intensity of EEG seizures when administered alone. However, WIN+RO co-administration reduced the incidence and the severity of EEG SE and increased the latency to SE onset after PILO injection. WIN+RO effects were blocked by the selective CB1R antagonist AM251 and the 5-HT2BR antagonist RS127445, but not by the 5-HT2CR antagonist SB242084 or the 5-HT2AR antagonist MDL11,939.

These data revealed a synergistic interaction between CB1R/5-HT2BR in the expression of PILO-induced SE.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30716469

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0969996119300336?via%3Dihub

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Ketamine induces central antinociception mediated by endogenous cannabinoids and activation of CB1 receptors.

Neuroscience Letters

“The participation of endocannabinoids in central and peripheral antinociception induced by several compounds has been shown by our group.

In this study, we investigated the effect of endocannabinoids on the central antinociception induced by ketamine.

It was concluded that central antinociception induced by ketamine involves the activation of CB1 cannabinoidreceptors.

Mobilization of cannabinoids might be required for the activation of those receptors, since inhibitors of the endogenous cannabinoids potentiate the effect of Ketamine.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30716423

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0304394019300771?via%3Dihub

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Cannabinoids and Bone Regeneration.

 Publication Cover“Bone is a complex tissue of the with unique properties such as high strength and regeneration capabilities while carrying out multiple functions. Bone regeneration occurs both in physiological situations (bone turnover) and pathological situations (e.g. fractures), being performed by osteoblasts and osteoclasts. If this process is inadequate, fracture nonunion or aseptic loosening of implants occurs and requires a complex treatment.

Exogenous factors are currently used to increase bone regeneration process when needed, such as bisphosphonates and vitamin D, but limitations do exist. Cannabinoid system has been shown to have positive effects on bone metabolism. Cannabinoids at bone level mainly act on two receptors called CB-1 and CB-2, but GPR55, GPR119, TPRV1, TPRV4 receptors may also be involved. The CB-2 receptors are found in bone cells at higher levels compared to other receptors.

Endocannabinods represented by anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol, can stimulate osteoblast formation, bone formation and osteoclast activity. CB-2 agonists including HU-308, HU-433, JWH133 and JWH015 can stimulate osteoblast proliferation and activity, while CB-2 antagonists such as AM630 and SR144528 can inhibit osteoclast differentiation and function. CB-1 antagonist AM251 has been shown to inhibit osteoclast differentiation and activity, while GPR55 antagonist cannabidiol increases osteoblast activity and decreases osteoclast function.

An optimal correlation of dose, duration, moment of action and affinity can lead to an increased bone regeneration capacity, with important benefits in many pathological situations which involve bone tissue. As adverse reactions of cannabinoids haven’t been described in patients under controlled medication, cannabinoids can represent future treatment for bone regeneration.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30702341

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03602532.2019.1574303?journalCode=idmr20

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