Role of the endocannabinoid system in drug addiction.

Biochemical Pharmacology

“Drug addiction is a chronic relapsing disorder that produces a dramaticglobal health burden worldwide. Not effective treatment of drug addiction is currently available probably due to the difficulties to find an appropriate target to manage this complex disease raising the needs for further identification of novel therapeutic approaches.

The endocannabinoid system has been found to play a crucial role in the neurobiological substrate underlying drug addiction.

Endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors are widely expressed in the main areas of the mesocorticolimbic system that participate in the initiation and maintenance of drug consumption and in the development of compulsion and loss of behavioral control occurring during drug addiction.

The identification of the important role played by CB1 cannabinoid receptors in drug addiction encouraged the possible used of an early commercialized CB1 receptor antagonist for treating drug addiction.

However, the incidence of serious psychiatric adverse events leaded to the sudden withdrawal from the market of this CB1 antagonist and all the research programs developed by pharmaceutical companies to obtain new CB1 antagonists were stopped.

Currently, new research strategies are under development to target the endocannabinoid system for drug addiction avoiding these side effects, which include allosteric negative modulators of CB1 receptors and compounds targeting CB2 receptors.

Recent studies showing the potential role of CB2 receptors in the addictive properties of different drugs of abuse have open a promising research opportunity to develop novel possible therapeutic approaches.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30217570

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0006295218303952

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Endocannabinoids in the treatment of gasytrointestinal inflammation and symptoms.

 Current Opinion in Pharmacology

“The evolving policies regarding the use of therapeutic Cannabis have steadily increased the public interest in its use as a complementary and alternative medicine in several disorders, including inflammatory bowel disease.

Endocannabinoids represent both an appealing therapeutic strategy and a captivating scientific dilemma.

Results from clinical trials have to be carefully interpreted owing to possible reporting-biases related to cannabinoids psychotropic effects. Moreover, discriminating between symptomatic improvement and the real gain on the underlying inflammatory process is often challenging.

This review summarizes the advances and latest discovery in this ever-changing field of investigation, highlighting the main limitations in the current use of these drugs in clinical practice and the possible future perspectives to overcome these flaws.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30218940

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1471489218300183?via%3Dihub

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Cannabis sativa: A comprehensive ethnopharmacological review of a medicinal plant with a long history.

Journal of Ethnopharmacology

“Cannabis sativa L. (C. sativa) is an annual dioecious plant, which shares its origins with the inception of the first agricultural human societies in Asia. Over the course of time different parts of the plant have been utilized for therapeutic and recreational purposes, for instance, extraction of healing oils from seed, or the use of inflorescences for their psychoactive effects. The key psychoactive constituent in C. sativa is called Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (D9-THC). The endocannabinoid system seems to be phylogenetically ancient, as it was present in the most primitive vertebrates with a neuronal network. N-arachidonoylethanolamine (AEA) and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG) are the main endocannabinoids ligands present in the animal kingdom, and the main endocannabinoid receptors are cannabinoid type-1 (CB1) receptor and cannabinoid type-2 (CB2) receptor.

AIM OF THE STUDY:

The review aims to provide a critical and comprehensive evaluation, from the ancient times to our days, of the ethnological, botanical, chemical and pharmacological aspects of C. sativa, with a vision for promoting further pharmaceutical research to explore its complete potential as a therapeutic agent.

RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS:

A detailed comparative analysis of the available resources for C. sativa confirmed its origin and traditional spiritual, household and therapeutic uses and most importantly its popularity as a recreational drug. The result of several studies suggested a deeper involvement of phytocannabinoids (the key compounds in C. sativa) in several others central and peripheral pathophysiological mechanisms such as food intake, inflammation, pain, colitis, sleep disorders, neurological and psychiatric illness. However, despite their numerous medicinal benefits, they are still considered as a menace to the society and banned throughout the world, except for few countries. We believe that this review will help lay the foundation for promoting exhaustive pharmacological and pharmaceutical studies in order to better understand the clinical relevance and applications of non-psychoactive cannabinoids in the prevention and treatment of life-threatening diseases and help to improve the legal status of C. sativa.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30205181

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378874118316611?via%3Dihub

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ANTINOCICEPTIVE TOLERANCE TO NSAIDS PARTIALLY MEDIATED VIA ENDOCANNABINOIDS IN ANTERIOR CINGULATE CORTEX OF RATS.

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“Pain is characterized as a complex experience, dependent not only on the regulation of nociceptive sensory systems but also on the activation of mechanisms that control emotional processes in limbic brain areas.

Non-opioid, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the most widely used analgesics in the treatment of not-severe pain. We have recently shown that repeated doses result in tolerance to these drugs like opioids.

Here we investigated the central brain mechanisms of non-opioid induced antinociception in the non-acute pain models of rats, such as the ‘formalin test’ and a relation between administration of NSAIDs in the limbic brain area, – the anterior cingulated cortex (ACC), – and the endocannabinoid system.

The present data support the notion that endocannabinoids’ CB1 receptor contributes in part to antinociceptive effects of NSAIDs and probably involved in activation of the descending opioid modulatory system of pain.”

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The Endocannabinoid/Cannabinoid Receptor 2 System Protects Against Cisplatin-Induced Hearing Loss.

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“Previous studies have demonstrated the presence of cannabinoid 2 receptor (CB2R) in the rat cochlea which was induced by cisplatin. In an organ of Corti-derived cell culture model, it was also shown that an agonist of the CB2R protected these cells against cisplatin-induced apoptosis.

In the current study, we determined the distribution of CB2R in the mouse and rat cochleae and examined whether these receptors provide protection against cisplatin-induced hearing loss.

These data unmask a protective role of the cochlear endocannabinoid/CB2R system which appears tonically active under normal conditions to preserve normal hearing. However, an exogenous agonist is needed to boost the activity of endocannabinoid/CB2R system for protection against a more traumatic cochlear insult, as observed with cisplatin administration.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30186120

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fncel.2018.00271/full

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Cannabinoids in cancer treatment: Therapeutic potential and legislation.

Bosnian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences

“The plant Cannabis sativa L. has been used as an herbal remedy for centuries and is the most important source of phytocannabinoids.

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) consists of receptors, endogenous ligands (endocannabinoids) and metabolizing enzymes, and plays an important role in different physiological and pathological processes.

Phytocannabinoids and synthetic cannabinoids can interact with the components of ECS or other cellular pathways and thus affect the development/progression of diseases, including cancer.

In cancer patients, cannabinoids have primarily been used as a part of palliative care to alleviate pain, relieve nausea and stimulate appetite.

In addition, numerous cell culture and animal studies showed antitumor effects of cannabinoids in various cancer types.

Here we reviewed the literature on anticancer effects of plant-derived and synthetic cannabinoids, to better understand their mechanisms of action and role in cancer treatment. We also reviewed the current legislative updates on the use of cannabinoids for medical and therapeutic purposes, primarily in the EU countries.

In vitro and in vivo cancer models show that cannabinoids can effectively modulate tumor growth, however, the antitumor effects appear to be largely dependent on cancer type and drug dose/concentration.

Understanding how cannabinoids are able to regulate essential cellular processes involved in tumorigenesis, such as progression through the cell cycle, cell proliferation and cell death, as well as the interactions between cannabinoids and the immune system, are crucial for improving existing and developing new therapeutic approaches for cancer patients.

The national legislation of the EU Member States defines the legal boundaries of permissible use of cannabinoids for medical and therapeutic purposes, however, these legislative guidelines may not be aligned with the current scientific knowledge.”

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Acute foot-shock stress decreased seizure susceptibility against pentylenetetrazole-induced seizures in mice: Interaction between endogenous opioids and cannabinoids.

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“Stressful conditions affect the brain’s neurotransmission and neural pathways that are involved in seizure susceptibility. Stress alters the intensity and/or frequency of seizures.

Although evidence indicates that chronic stress exerts proconvulsant effects and acute stress has anticonvulsant properties, the underlying mechanisms which mediate these effects are not well understood.

In the present study, we assessed the role of endogenous opioids, endocannabinoids, as well as functional interaction between opioid and cannabinoid systems in the anticonvulsant effects of acute foot-shock stress (FSS) against pentylenetetrazole (PTZ)-induced seizures in mice.

CONCLUSIONS:

Opioid and cannabinoid systems are involved in the anticonvulsant effects of acute FSS, and these neurotransmission systems interact functionally in response to acute FSS.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30170259

https://www.epilepsybehavior.com/article/S1525-5050(17)30777-1/fulltext

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Gut microbiota, cannabinoid system and neuroimmune interactions: New perspectives in multiple sclerosis.

Biochemical Pharmacology

“The gut microbiota plays a fundamental role on the education and function of the host immune system.

Immunological dysregulation is the cause of numerous human disorders such as autoimmune diseases and metabolic disorders frequently associated with inflammatory processes therefore is critical to explore novel mechanisms involved in maintaining the immune system homeostasis.

The cannabinoid system and related bioactive lipids participate in multiple central and peripheral physiological processes that affect metabolic, gastrointestinal and neuroimmune regulatory mechanisms displaying a modulatory role and contributing to the maintenance of the organism’s homeostasis.

In this review, we gather the knowledge on the gut microbiota-endocannabinoids interactions and their impact on autoimmune disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis and particularly, multiple sclerosis (MS) as the best example of a CNS autoimmune disorder.

Furthermore, we contribute to this field with new data on changes in many elements of the cannabinoid system in a viral model of MS after gut microbiota manipulation by both antibiotics and probiotics.

Finally, we highlight new therapeutic opportunities, under an integrative view, targeting the eCBS and the commensal microbiota in the context of neuroinflammation and MS.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30171835

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0006295218303630

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Targeting the Endocannabinoid System for Prevention or Treatment of Chemotherapy-Induced Neuropathic Pain: Studies in Animal Models.

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“There is a scarcity of drugs to either prevent or properly manage chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain (CINP). Cannabis or cannabinoids have been reported to improve pain measures in patients with neuropathic pain.

For this review, a search was done in PubMed for papers that examined the expression of and/or evaluated the use of cannabinoids or drugs that prevent or treat established CINP in a CB receptor-dependent manner in animal models.

Studies suggest there is a specific deficiency of endocannabinoids in the periphery during CINP.

Inhibitors of FAAH and MGL, enzymes that degrade the endocannabinoids, CB receptor agonists, desipramine, and coadministered indomethacin plus minocycline were found to either prevent the development and/or attenuate established CINP in a CB receptor-dependent manner.

The studies analysed suggest that targeting the endocannabinoid system for prevention and treatment of CINP is a plausible therapeutic option. Almost 90% of the studies on animal models of CINP analysed utilised male rodents. Taking into consideration clinical and experimental findings that show gender differences in the mechanisms involved in pain including CINP and in response to analgesics, it is imperative that future studies on CINP utilise more female models.”

“Cannabis or cannabinoids have been reported to improve pain measures in patients with neuropathic or cancer pain. The studies analysed suggest that targeting the endocannabinoid system for prevention and treatment of CINP is a plausible therapeutic option.” https://www.hindawi.com/journals/prm/2018/5234943/
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New approaches and challenges to targeting the endocannabinoid system.

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“The endocannabinoid signalling system was discovered because receptors in this system are the targets of compounds present in psychotropic preparations of Cannabis sativa. The search for new therapeutics that target endocannabinoid signalling is both challenging and potentially rewarding, as endocannabinoids are implicated in numerous physiological and pathological processes. Hundreds of mediators chemically related to the endocannabinoids, often with similar metabolic pathways but different targets, have complicated the development of inhibitors of endocannabinoid metabolic enzymes but have also stimulated the rational design of multi-target drugs. Meanwhile, drugs based on botanical cannabinoids have come to the clinical forefront, synthetic agonists designed to bind cannabinoid receptor 1 with very high affinity have become a societal threat and the gut microbiome has been found to signal in part through the endocannabinoid network. The current development of drugs that alter endocannabinoid signalling and how this complex system could be pharmacologically manipulated in the future are described in this Opinion article.”

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