“Inspired by the medicinal properties of the plant Cannabis sativa and its principal component (-)-trans-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), researchers have developed a variety of compounds to modulate the endocannabinoid system in the human brain.
Inhibitors of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) and monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL), which are the enzymes responsible for the inactivation of the endogenous cannabinoids anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol, respectively, may exert therapeutic effects without inducing the adverse side effects associated with direct cannabinoid CB1 receptor stimulation by THC.
Here we review the FAAH and MAGL inhibitors that have reached clinical trials, discuss potential caveats, and provide an outlook on where the field is headed.”
“Stress is a risk factor for psychosis and treatments which mitigate its harmful effects are needed.
Cannabidiol (CBD) has antipsychotic and anxiolytic effects.
We investigated whether CBD would normalise the neuroendocrine and anxiety responses to stress in clinical high risk for psychosis (CHR) patients.
One-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) revealed a significant effect of group (HC, CHR-P, CHR-CBD (p = .005) on cortisol reactivity as well as a significant (p = .003) linear decrease. The change in cortisol associated with experimental stress exposure was greatest in HC controls and least in CHR-P patients, with CHR-CBD patients exhibiting an intermediate response. Planned contrasts revealed that the cortisol reactivity was significantly different in HC compared with CHR-P (p = .003), and in HC compared with CHR-CBD (p = .014), but was not different between CHR-P and CHR-CBD (p = .70). Across the participant groups (CHR-P, CHR-CBD and HC), changes in anxiety and experience of public speaking stress (all p’s < .02) were greatest in the CHR-P and least in the HC, with CHR-CBD participants demonstrating an intermediate level of change.
Our findings show that it is worthwhile to design further well powered studies which investigate whether CBD may be used to affect cortisol response in clinical high risk for psychosis patients and any effect this may have on symptoms.”
“Antipsychotic effects of CBD have been linked to its effects on levels of the endogenous cannabinoid anandamide (AEA) potentially by inhibiting its catalytic enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH). Recent preclinical work has also suggested that CBD may block the anxiogenic effects of chronic stress that was associated with a concomitant decrease in the expression of FAAH following CBD treatment. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to have investigated the effects of short-term treatment with CBD on experimentally induced stress in the context of psychosis risk. Notwithstanding its limitations, the present study provides a strong rationale for future studies to investigate whether CBD may have potential to mitigate the harmful effects of stress in the course of daily life by attenuating the altered neuroendocrine and psychological responses to acute stress in CHR participants.”
“Over the course of the last decade, Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptors (PPARs) have been identified as part of the cannabinoid signaling system: both phytocannabinoids and endocannabinoids are capable of binding and activating these nuclear receptors. Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase (FAAH) hydrolyzes the endocannabinoid Anandamide and other N-Acylethanolamines. These substances have been shown to have numerous anti-cancer effects, and indeed the inhibition of FAAH has multiple beneficial effects that are mediated by PPARα subtype and by PPARγ subtype, especially antiproliferation and activation of apoptosis. The substrates of FAAH are also PPAR agonists, which explains the PPAR-mediated effects of FAAH inhibitors. Much like cannabinoid ligands and FAAH inhibitors, PPARγ agonists show antiproliferative effects on cancer cells, suggesting that additive or synergistic effects may be achieved through the positive modulation of both signaling systems. In this perspective, we discuss the development of novel FAAH inhibitors able to directly act as PPAR agonists and their promising utilization as leads for the discovery of highly effective anti-cancer compounds.”
“The endocannabinoid system (ECS) actively participates in several physiological processes within the central nervous system.
Among such, its involvement in the downregulation of the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAr) through a modulatory input at the cannabinoid receptors (CBr) has been established. After its production via the kynurenine pathway (KP), quinolinic acid (QUIN) can act as an excitotoxin through the selective overactivation of NMDAr, thus participating in the onset and development of neurological disorders.
In this work, we evaluated whether the pharmacological inhibition of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) by URB597, and the consequent increase in the endogenous levels of anandamide, can prevent the excitotoxic damage induced by QUIN. URB597 (0.3 mg/kg/day × 7 days, administered before, during and after the striatal lesion) exerted protective effects on the QUIN-induced motor (asymmetric behavior) and biochemical (lipid peroxidation and protein carbonylation) alterations in rats.
URB597 also preserved the structural integrity of the striatum and prevented the neuronal loss (assessed as microtubule-associated protein-2 and glutamate decarboxylase localization) induced by QUIN (1 μL intrastriatal, 240 nmol/μL), while modified the early localization patterns of CBr1 (CB1) and NMDAr subunit 1 (NR1).
Altogether, these findings support the concept that the pharmacological manipulation of the endocannabinoid system plays a neuroprotective role against excitotoxic insults in the central nervous system.”
“The trigeminovascular system (TS) activation and the vasoactive release from trigeminal endings, in proximity of the meningeal vessels, are considered two of the main effector mechanisms of migraine attacks. Several other structures and mediators are involved, however, both upstream and alongside the TS.
Among these, the endocannabinoid system (ES) has recently attracted considerable attention. Experimental and clinical data suggest indeed a link between dysregulation of this signaling complex and migraine headache.
Clinical observations, in particular, show that the levels of anandamide (AEA)-one of the two primary endocannabinoid lipids-are reduced in cerebrospinal fluid and plasma of patients with chronic migraine (CM), and that this reduction is associated with pain facilitation in the spinal cord.
AEA is produced on demand during inflammatory conditions and exerts most of its effects by acting on cannabinoid (CB) receptors. AEA is rapidly degraded by fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) enzyme and its levels can be modulated in the peripheral and central nervous system (CNS) by FAAH inhibitors.
Inhibition of AEA degradation via FAAH is a promising therapeutic target for migraine pain, since it is presumably associated to an increased availability of the endocannabinoid, specifically at the site where its formation is stimulated (e.g., trigeminal ganglion and/or meninges), thus prolonging its action.”
“Previous findings showed that inhibitors of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) and monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL), degrading enzymes of anandamide (2-AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), reduced the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug-induced gastric lesions.
The present study aimed to investigate: i./whether central or peripheral mechanism play a major role in the gastroprotective effect of inhibitors of FAAH, MAGL and AEA uptake, ii./which peripheral mechanism(s) may play a role in mucosal protective effect of FAAH, MAGL and uptake inhibitors.
Gastric mucosal damage was induced by acidified ethanol.
Elevation of central endocannabinoid levels by blocking their degradation or uptake via stimulation of mucosal defensive mechanisms resulted in gastroprotective action against ethanol-induced mucosal injury. These findings might suggest that central endocannabinoidsystem may play a role in gastric mucosal defense and maintenance of mucosal integrity.”
“Long term exposure to stress has been demonstrated to cause neuroinflammation through a sustained overproduction of free radicals, including nitric oxide, via an increased inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) activity.
Similar to nitric oxide, endocannabinoids are synthesised on demand, with preclinical observations suggesting that cannabinoid receptor agonists and endocannabinoid enhancers inhibit nitrergic activity.
The results demonstrate that pre-treatment with PF-3845 rapidly ameliorates plasma corticosterone release at 60 minutes of stress. An increase in endocannabinoid signalling also induces an overall attenuation in iNOS, tumor necrosis factor-alpha convertase, interleukin-6, cyclooxygenase-2, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma mRNA, and the transactivation potential of NF-κB in the hippocampus.
These results suggest that enhanced endocannabinoid levels in the dorsal hippocampus have an overall anti-nitrosative and anti-inflammatory effect following acute stress exposure.”
“Inhibition of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) potentiates endocannabinoid activity and is hypothesized to have therapeutic potential for mood and anxiety disorders and pain” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29575526
“Recent data suggest that the endocannabinoid system (ECS) may be involved in the glial response in different types of brain injury. Both acute and chronic insults seem to trigger a shift in the pattern of expression of some elements of this system from neuronal to glial. Specifically, data obtained in human brain tissue sections from Alzheimer’s disease patients showed that the expression of cannabinoid receptors of the CB(2) type is induced in activated microglial cells while fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) expression is increased in reactive astrocytes. The present study was designed to determine the time-course of the shift from neuronal to glial induction in the expression of these proteins in Down‘s syndrome, sometimes referred to as a human model of Alzheimer-like beta-amyloid (Abeta) deposition. Here we present immunohistochemical evidence that both CB(2) receptors and FAAH enzyme are induced in Abeta plaque-associated microglia and astroglia, respectively, in Down‘s syndrome. These results suggest that the induction of these elements of the ECS contributes to, or is a result of, amyloid deposition and subsequent plaque formation. In addition, they confirm a striking differential pattern of distribution of FAAH and CB(2) receptors.”
“Activating the endocannabinoid system has become a major focus in the search for novel therapeutics for anxiety and deficits in fear extinction, two defining features of PTSD. We examined whether chronic treatment with the fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) inhibitor URB597 (0.2, 0.3, 0.4 mg/kg, i.p.) or the CB1/2 receptor agonist WIN55,212-2 (0.25, 0.5 mg/kg, i.p.) injected for 3 weeks to rats exposed to the shock and reminders model of PTSD would attenuate post-stress symptoms and affect basolateral amygdala (BLA) and CA1 CB1 receptors.
Exposure to shock and reminders enhanced acoustic startle response and impaired extinction. Rats exposed to shock and reminders and chronically treated with URB597 demonstrated normalized startle response and intact extinction kinetics. WIN55,212-2 only affected the startle response. The therapeutic effects of URB597 and WIN55,212-2 were found to be CB1 receptor dependent, as these effects were blocked when a low dose of the CB1 receptor antagonist AM251 (0.3 mg/kg, i.p. for 3 weeks) was co-administered. Moreover, URB597, but not WIN55,212-2, normalized the shock/reminders-induced upregulation in CB1 receptor levels in the BLA and CA1. One hour after the shock, N-arachidonoylethanolamine (AEA) was increased in the BLA and decreased in the CA1. Circulating 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) concentrations were decreased in shocked rats, with no significant effect in the BLA or CA1. FAAH activity was increased in the CA1 of shocked rats.
Chronic cannabinoid treatment with URB597 can ameliorate PTSD-like symptoms suggesting FAAH inhibitors as a potentially effective therapeutic strategy for the treatment of disorders associated with inefficient fear coping.”
“The endocannabinoid system is currently under intense investigation due to the therapeutic potential of cannabinoid-based drugs as treatment options for a broad variety of diseases including cancer.
Besides the canonical endocannabinoid system that includes the cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 and the endocannabinoids N-arachidonoylethanolamine (anandamide) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol, recent investigations suggest that other fatty acid derivatives, receptors, enzymes, and lipid transporters likewise orchestrate this system as components of the endocannabinoid system when defined as an extended signaling network.
As such, fatty acids acting at cannabinoid receptors (e.g. 2-arachidonoyl glyceryl ether [noladin ether], N-arachidonoyldopamine) as well as endocannabinoid-like substances that do not elicit cannabinoid receptor activation (e.g. N-palmitoylethanolamine, N-oleoylethanolamine) have raised interest as anticancerogenic substances.
Furthermore, the endocannabinoid-degrading enzymes fatty acid amide hydrolase and monoacylglycerol lipase, lipid transport proteins of the fatty acid binding protein family, additional cannabinoid-activated G protein-coupled receptors, members of the transient receptor potential family as well as peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors have been considered as targets of antitumoral cannabinoid activity. Therefore, this review focused on the antitumorigenic effects induced upon modulation of this extended endocannabinoid network.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29390896http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03602532.2018.1428344?journalCode=idmr20