Targeting Cannabinoid Signaling in the Immune System: “High”-ly Exciting Questions, Possibilities, and Challenges

Image result for frontiers in immunology“It is well known that certain active ingredients of the plants of Cannabis genus, i.e., the “phytocannabinoids” [pCBs; e.g., (−)-trans9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), (−)-cannabidiol, etc.] can influence a wide array of biological processes, and the human body is able to produce endogenous analogs of these substances [“endocannabinoids” (eCB), e.g., arachidonoylethanolamine (anandamide, AEA), 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), etc.]. These ligands, together with multiple receptors (e.g., CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors, etc.), and a complex enzyme and transporter apparatus involved in the synthesis and degradation of the ligands constitute the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a recently emerging regulator of several physiological processes. The ECS is widely expressed in the human body, including several members of the innate and adaptive immune system, where eCBs, as well as several pCBs were shown to deeply influence immune functions thereby regulating inflammation, autoimmunity, antitumor, as well as antipathogen immune responses, etc. Based on this knowledge, many in vitro and in vivo studies aimed at exploiting the putative therapeutic potential of cannabinoid signaling in inflammation-accompanied diseases (e.g., multiple sclerosis) or in organ transplantation, and to dissect the complex immunological effects of medical and “recreational” marijuana consumption. Thus, the objective of the current article is (i) to summarize the most recent findings of the field; (ii) to highlight the putative therapeutic potential of targeting cannabinoid signaling; (iii) to identify open questions and key challenges; and (iv) to suggest promising future directions for cannabinoid-based drug development.

Active Components of Cannabis sativa (Hemp)—Phytocannabinoids (pCBs) and Beyond

It is known since ancient times that consumption of different parts of the plant Cannabis sativa can lead to psychotropic effects. Moreover, mostly, but not exclusively because of its potent analgesic actions, it was considered to be beneficial in the management of several diseases. Nowadays it is a common knowledge that these effects were mediated by the complex mixture of biologically active substances produced by the plant. So far, at least 545 active compounds have been identified in it, among which, the best-studied ones are the so-called pCBs. It is also noteworthy that besides these compounds, ca. 140 different terpenes [including the potent and selective CB2 agonist sesquiterpene β-caryophyllene (BCP)], multiple flavonoids, alkanes, sugars, non-cannabinoid phenols, phenylpropanoids, steroids, fatty acids, and various nitrogenous compounds can be found in the plant, individual biological actions of which are mostly still nebulous. Among the so far identified > 100 pCBs, the psychotropic (−)-trans9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and the non-psychotropic (−)-cannabidiol (CBD) are the best-studied ones, exerting a wide-variety of biological actions [including but not exclusively: anticonvulsive, analgesic, antiemetic, and anti inflammatory effects]. Of great importance, pCBs have been shown to modulate the activity of a plethora of cellular targets, extending their impact far beyond the “classical” (see above) cannabinoid signaling. Indeed, besides being agonists [or in some cases even antagonists of CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors, some pCBs were shown to differentially modulate the activity of certain TRP channels, PPARs, serotonin, α adrenergic, adenosine or opioid receptors, and to inhibit COX and lipoxygenase enzymes, FAAH, EMT, etc.. Moreover, from a clinical point-of-view, it should also be noted that pCBs can indirectly modify pharmacokinetics of multiple drugs (e.g., cyclosporine A) by interacting with several cytochrome P 450 (CYP) enzymes. Taken together, pCBs can be considered as multitarget polypharmacons, each of them having unique “molecular fingerprints” created by the characteristic activation/inhibition pattern of its locally available cellular targets.

Concluding Remarks—Lessons to Learn from Cannabis

Research efforts of the past few decades have unambiguously evidenced that ECS is one of the central orchestrators of both innate and adaptive immune systems, and that pure pCBs as well as complex cannabis-derivatives can also deeply influence immune responses. Although, many open questions await to be answered, pharmacological modulation of the (endo)cannabinoid signaling, and restoration of the homeostatic eCB tone of the tissues augur to be very promising future directions in the management of several pathological inflammation-accompanied diseases. Moreover, in depth analysis of the (quite complex) mechanism-of-action of the most promising pCBs is likely to shed light to previously unknown immune regulatory mechanisms and can therefore pave new “high”-ways toward developing completely novel classes of therapeutic agents to manage a wide-variety of diseases.”

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2017.01487/full

www.frontiersin.org

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β-Caryophyllene, a Natural Sesquiterpene, Attenuates Neuropathic Pain and Depressive-Like Behavior in Experimental Diabetic Mice.

 View details for Journal of Medicinal Food cover image“Neuropathic pain (NP) is associated with chronic hyperglycemia and emotional disorders such as depression in diabetic patients, complicating the course of treatment. Drugs currently used to treat NP have undesirable side effects, so research on other natural sources has been required.

β-caryophyllene (BCP), a natural sesquiterpene found in some food condiments and considered an agonist to cannabinoid receptor type 2, could have potential therapeutic effects to treat conditions such as NP and emotional disorders. For this reason, we assessed whether BCP modulates nociception, anxiety, and depressive-like behavior in streptozotocin (STZ)-induced experimental diabetic BALB/c female mice.

BCP was orally chronic administrated (10 mg/kg/60 μL). Pain developed with STZ was evaluated with von Frey filament test, SMALGO®, and hot plate test. Anxiety and depression-like behavior were assessed by marbles test, forced swim test, and tail suspension test. BCP significantly reduced glycemia in experimental diabetic mice. The pain was also mitigated by BCP administration. Depression-like behavior assessed with tail suspension test was attenuated with orally chronic BCP administration. Substance P and cytokines such as interleukin-1β (IL-1β), tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α), and interleukin-6 (IL-6) were also attenuated with BCP administration. NP was positively correlated with substance P and IL-6 and IL-1β release.

Our data using an orally chronic BCP administration in the STZ challenged mice to suggest that glycemia, diabetes-related NP, and depressive-like behavior could be prevented/reduced by dietary BCP.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30864870

https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/jmf.2018.0157

“β-caryophyllene (BCP) is a common constitute of the essential oils of numerous spice, food plants and major component in Cannabis.”   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23138934

“Beta-caryophyllene is a dietary cannabinoid.”   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18574142

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β-Caryophyllene, a natural bicyclic sesquiterpene attenuates doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity via activation of myocardial cannabinoid type-2 (CB2) receptors in rats.

Chemico-Biological Interactions

“The cannabinoid type 2 receptor (CB2) has recently emerged as an important therapeutic target for cancer as well as cardiovascular diseases. The CB2 receptor downregulation has been reported in solid tumors and cardiovascular diseases, therefore the CB2receptor activation has been considered as a viable strategy for chemotherapy as well as cardioprotection.

In chemotherapy, doxorubicin (DOX) is an important drug that continues to be the mainstay of chemotherapy in solid tumors, leukemia, and lymphoma. However, the use of DOX is often limited due to its lethal cardiotoxicity. Considering the role of CB2 receptors in cardiovascular diseases and cancer, the activation of CB2 receptors may protect against DOX-induced chronic cardiotoxicity in rats.

In the present study, we investigated the cardioprotective effect of a selective CB2 receptor agonist; β-Caryophyllene (BCP), a natural bicyclic sesquiterpene, against DOX-induced chronic cardiotoxicity in rats. AM630, a CB2 receptor antagonist was administered as a pharmacological challenge prior to BCP treatment to demonstrate CB2 receptor mediated cardioprotective mechanism of BCP. DOX (2.5 mg/kg) was injected intraperitoneally once a week for five weeks to induce chronic cardiotoxicity in rats.

BCP was also injected into rats six days a week for a total duration of five weeks. DOX induced a significant decline in cardiac function and oxidative stress evidenced by the depletion of antioxidant enzymes, glutathione, and increased lipid peroxidation. DOX also triggered activation of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) and increased the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines (TNF-α, IL-6, and IL-1β) and expression of the inflammatory mediators (iNOS and COX-2) in the heart.

Furthermore, DOX also upregulated the expression of pro-apoptotic markers such as Bax, p53, cleaved PARP, active caspase-3 and downregulated anti-apoptotic marker Bcl-2 in the myocardium. BCP treatment exerted significant cardioprotective effect by salvaging the heart tissues, improving cardiac function, mitigating oxidative stress, inflammation, and apoptosis. The histological and ultrastructural studies also appear in line with our findings of biochemical and molecular parameters.

The CB2 receptor-mediated cardioprotective mechanism was further confirmed by the abrogation of the beneficial effects of BCP with prior administration of the CB2 receptor antagonist; AM630.

Our study revealed the novel mechanism of BCP in cardioprotection against DOX-induced chronic cardiotoxicity by the activation of CB2 receptors.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30836069

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0009279718316284?via%3Dihub

“β-caryophyllene (BCP) is a common constitute of the essential oils of numerous spice, food plants and major component in Cannabis.”   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23138934

“Beta-caryophyllene is a dietary cannabinoid.”   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18574142

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Pharmaceutical potentialities of β-caryophyllene for drug delivery systems: a prospection.

“The β-caryophyllene (BCP), a phytocannabinoid presents in various essential oils, demonstrated selective action on the CB2 endocannabinoid receptor and attracted considerable attention because of its several pharmacological activities. Despite this recognized potential, this hydrophobic compound is a volatile and acid-sensitive sesquiterpene that readily oxidizes when exposed to air, and has low bioavailability in oral formulations. Thus, the development of formulations that guarantee its stability and increase its bioavailability is a challenge for its use in the pharmaceutical field.

RESULTS:

The systems presented here may represent an interesting approach to overcome the limitations already mentioned for this terpene. These systems proved to be promising for improving solubility, stability and controlled release of this pharmacological relevant sesquiterpene. In the industrial field, some companies have filed patent applications for the commercial use of the BCP, however, the use of pharmaceutical formulations still appeared moderate.

CONCLUSION:

This prospective study evidenced the new perspectives related to BCP vectorization systems in the pharmaceutical and industrial marketing field and may serve as a basis for further research and pharmaceutical use of this powerful cannabinoid.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30207226

http://www.eurekaselect.com/165376/article

“β-caryophyllene (BCP) is a common constitute of the essential oils of numerous spice, food plants and major component in Cannabis.”   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23138934

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Guaiol–a naturally occurring insecticidal sesquiterpene.

“The dichloromethane fraction of Ferula ferulaeoides was analyzed by GC and GC-MS, and thirty-four compounds were identified. The main component in the fraction, guaiol (37.0%) was separated by chromatographic methods and identified from spectroscopic data, including 1H and 13C NMR, and X-ray crystallographic diffraction. Guaiol showed significant inhibition of aphids at a concentration of 70 mg/L. It also showed good contact activities against the 4th instar larvae of Mythimna separate and 3rd instar larvae of Plutella xylostella, with LD50 values of 0.07 and 8.9 mg/larva, as well as fumigation activity against the 4th instar larvae ofM. separata and adult Musca domestica, with LC50 values of 3.5 microL/L and 16.9 microL/L, respectively.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24354171

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