Cannabinoids and Neurogenesis: The Promised Solution for Neurodegeneration?

molecules-logo“The concept of neurons as irreplaceable cells does not hold true today. Experiments and evidence of neurogenesis, also, in the adult brain give hope that some compounds or drugs can enhance this process, helping to reverse the outcomes of diseases or traumas that once were thought to be everlasting.

Cannabinoids, both from natural and artificial origins, already proved to have several beneficial effects (e.g., anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidants and analgesic action), but also capacity to increase neuronal population, by replacing the cells that were lost and/or regenerate a damaged nerve cell.

Neurogenesis is a process which is not highly represented in literature as neuroprotection, though it is as important as prevention of nervous system damage, because it can represent a possible solution when neuronal death is already present, such as in neurodegenerative diseases.

The aim of this review is to resume the experimental evidence of phyto- and synthetic cannabinoids effects on neurogenesis, both in vitro and in vivo, in order to elucidate if they possess also neurogenetic and neurorepairing properties.”

“The current results of cannabinoids effects on neurogenesis are encouraging, and it is expectable that the amount of evidence continues to increase in the future with other experiments.”

Activity of THC, CBD, and CBN on Human ACE2 and SARS-CoV1/2 Main Protease to Understand Antiviral Defense Mechanism

“THC, CBD, and CBN were reported as promising candidates against SARS-CoV2 infection, but the mechanism of action of these three cannabinoids is not understood.

This study aims to determine the mechanism of action of THC, CBD, and CBN by selecting two essential targets that directly affect the coronavirus infections as viral main proteases and human angiotensin-converting enzyme2.

Tested THC and CBD presented a dual-action action against both selected targets. Only CBD acted as a potent viral main protease inhibitor at the IC50 value of 1.86 ± 0.04 µM and exhibited only moderate activity against human angiotensin-converting enzyme2 at the IC50 value of 14.65 ± 0.47 µM.

THC acted as a moderate inhibitor against both viral main protease and human angiotensin-converting enzymes2 at the IC50 value of 16.23 ± 1.71 µM and 11.47 ± 3.60 µM, respectively.

Here, we discuss cannabinoid-associated antiviral activity mechanisms based on in silico docking studies and in vitro receptor binding studies.”

Efficacy of Δ 9 -Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) Alone or in Combination With a 1:1 Ratio of Cannabidiol (CBD) in Reversing the Spatial Learning Deficits in Old Mice

Archive of "Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience".“Decline in cognitive performance, an aspect of the normal aging process, is influenced by the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) signaling diminishes with advancing age in specific brain regions that regulate learning and memory and abolishing CB1 receptor signaling accelerates cognitive aging in mice.

We recently demonstrated that prolonged exposure to low dose (3 mg/kg/day) Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) improved the cognitive performances in old mice on par with young untreated mice. Here we investigated the potential influence of cannabidiol (CBD) on this THC effect, because preclinical and clinical studies indicate that the combination of THC and CBD often exhibits an enhanced therapeutic effect compared to THC alone.

We first tested the effectiveness of a lower dose (1 mg/kg/day) THC, and then the efficacy of the combination of THC and CBD in 1:1 ratio, same as in the clinically approved medicine Sativex®. Our findings reveal that a 1 mg/kg/day THC dose still effectively improved spatial learning in aged mice. However, a 1:1 combination of THC and CBD failed to do so.

The presence of CBD induced temporal changes in THC metabolism ensuing in a transient elevation of blood THC levels. However, as CBD metabolizes, the inhibitory effect on THC metabolism was alleviated, causing a rapid clearance of THC. Thus, the beneficial effects of THC seemed to wane off more swiftly in the presence of CBD, due to these metabolic effects.

The findings indicate that THC-treatment alone is more efficient to improve spatial learning in aged mice than the 1:1 combination of THC and CBD.”

“In conclusion, our observations indicate that 1 mg/kg/day THC dose is still effective in improving the spatial learning in aged mice. With regard to the efficacy, THC-alone has proved to be more efficient in improving spatial learning in aged mice than its 1:1 combination with CBD. However, the possibility of THC/CBD being efficient in other ratios or at the earliest time-points, like immediately after the treatment cease, cannot be negated. Possibly, reducing the dose of CBD may improve the efficacy of the THC/CBD combination.”

Analysis of Toxicity Effects of Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol on Isolated Rat Heart Mitochondria

Publication Cover“Mitochondria have the main roles in myocardial tissue homeostasis, through providing ATP for the vital enzymes in intermediate metabolism, contractile apparatus and maintaining ion homeostasis. Mitochondria-related cardiotoxicity results from the exposure with illicit drugs have previously reported. These illicit drugs interference with processes of normal mitochondrial homeostasis and lead to mitochondrial dysfunction and mitochondrial-related oxidative stress.

Here, we investigated this hypothesis that delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta-9-THC) as a main cannabinoid found in cannabis could directly cause mitochondrial dysfunction.

Our observation showed that THC did not cause a deleterious alteration in mitochondrial functions, ROS production, MMP collapse, mitochondrial swelling, oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation in used concentrations (5-100 µM), even in several tests, toxicity showed a decreasing trend.

Altogether, the results of the current study showed that THC is not directly toxic in isolated cardiac mitochondria, and even may be helpful in reducing mitochondrial toxicity.”

Constituents of Cannabis Sativa

“The Cannabis sativa plant has been used medicinally and recreationally for thousands of years, but recently only relatively some of its constituents have been identified.

There are more than 550 chemical compounds in cannabis, with more than 100 phytocannabinoids being identified, including Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

These phytocannabinoids work by binding to the cannabinoid receptors, as well as other receptor systems. Also within cannabis are the aromatic terpenes, more than 100 of which have been identified.

Cannabis and its constituents have been indicated as therapeutic compounds in numerous medical conditions, such as pain, anxiety, epilepsy, nausea and vomiting, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

This chapter provides an overview of some of the biological effects of a number of the cannabinoids and terpenes, as well as discussing their known mechanisms of action and evidence of potential therapeutic effects.”

Antiseizure effects of the cannabinoids in the amygdala-kindling model

“Objective: Focal impaired awareness seizures (FIASs) are the most common seizure type in adults and are often refractory to medication. Management of FIASs is clinically challenging, and new interventions are needed for better seizure control. The amygdala-kindling model is a preclinical model of FIASs with secondary generalization.

The present study assessed the efficacy of cannabidiol (CBD), ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and a combination of CBD and THC in a 15:1 ratio at suppressing focal and secondarily generalized seizures in the amygdala-kindled rat.

Results: CBD alone produced a partial suppression of both generalized seizures (median effective dose [ED50 ] = 283 mg/kg) and focal seizures (ED40 = 320 mg/kg) at doses that did not produce ataxia. THC alone also produced partial suppression of generalized (ED50 = 10 mg/kg) and focal (ED50 = 30 mg/kg) seizures, but doses of 10 mg/kg and above produced hypolocomotion, although not ataxia. The addition of a low dose of THC to CBD (15:1) left-shifted the CBD dose-response curve, producing much lower ED50 s for both generalized (ED50 = 26 + 1.73 mg/kg) and focal (ED50 = 40 + 2.66 mg/kg) seizures. No ataxia or hypolocomotion was seen at these doses of the CBD + THC combination.

Significance: CBD and THC both have antiseizure properties in the amygdala-kindling model, although THC produces suppression of the amygdala focus only at doses that produce hypolocomotion. The addition of small amounts of THC greatly improves the effectiveness of CBD. A combination of CBD and THC might be useful for the management of FIASs.”

Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV): a commentary on potential therapeutic benefit for the management of obesity and diabetes

figure1“Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) is a cannabis-derived compound with unique properties that set it apart from the more common cannabinoids, such as Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The main advantage of THCV over THC is the lack of psychoactive effects. In rodent studies, THCV decreases appetite, increases satiety, and up-regulates energy metabolism, making it a clinically useful remedy for weight loss and management of obesity and type 2 diabetic patients. The distinctions between THCV and THC in terms of glycemic control, glucose metabolism, and energy regulation have been demonstrated in previous studies. Also, the effect of THCV on dyslipidemia and glycemic control in type 2 diabetics showed reduced fasting plasma glucose concentration when compared to a placebo group. In contrast, THC is indicated in individuals with cachexia. However, the uniquely diverse properties of THCV provide neuroprotection, appetite suppression, glycemic control, and reduced side effects, etc.; therefore, making it a potential priority candidate for the development of clinically useful therapies in the future. Hopefully, THCV could provide an optional platform for the treatment of life-threatening diseases.”

“The psychoactive effects of THC in marijuana are the main reasons for its classification as a Schedule I substance, even though it is the THC that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved for appetite stimulation and weight gain. In contrast to THC, clinical and therapeutic advantages of THCV regarding its lack of psychoactive effects in human studies are of great value in pharmacotherapy. It is envisioned that the unique and diverse characteristics of THCV could be explored for further development into clinically useful medicines for the treatment of life-threatening diseases.”

Δ 9 -Tetrahydrocannabinol promotes functional remyelination in the mouse brain

British Journal of Pharmacology“Background and purpose: Research on demyelinating disorders aims to find novel molecules that are able to induce oligodendrocyte precursor cell differentiation to promote central nervous system remyelination and functional recovery.

Δ9 -Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the most prominent active constituent of the hemp plant Cannabis sativa, confers neuroprotection in animal models of demyelination. However, the possible effect of THC on myelin repair has never been studied.

Experimental approach: By using oligodendroglia-specific reporter mouse lines in combination with two models of toxin-induced demyelination, we analysed the effect of THC on the processes of oligodendrocyte regeneration and functional remyelination.

Key results: We show that THC administration enhanced oligodendrocyte regeneration, white matter remyelination and motor function recovery. THC also promoted axonal remyelination in organotypic cerebellar cultures. THC remyelinating action relied on the induction of oligodendrocyte precursor differentiation upon cell cycle exit and via CB1 cannabinoid receptor activation.

Conclusions and implications: Overall, our study identifies THC administration as a promising pharmacological strategy aimed to promote functional CNS remyelination in demyelinating disorders.”

“Our study provides a novel therapeutic advantage of THC-based interventions in multiple sclerosis by promoting remyelination and functional recovery. New clinical trials with improved designs on cannabinoids in people with multiple sclerosis are needed now, considering these compounds as potential remyelinating/disease-modifying drugs to try to overcome previous failures. Our work also suggests that at least part of the neuroprotective action of phytocannabinoids in multiple sclerosis animal models and potentially in patients as well may be due to an enhanced CNS remyelination. Finally, this study also identifies THC as a potent inductor of oligodendrocyte progenitor cell differentiation under demyelination in mice, opening the possibility for this molecule to become a candidate drug to promote oligodendrocyte regeneration and remyelination in the treatment of demyelinating disorders.”

KY Hemp-induced Modulation of Ovarian Cancer Cell Metastasis

“Our laboratory is interested in searching for a new plant-based therapeutics to treat ovarian cancer.

We are interested in studying anti-cancer effects of KY grown hemp as a potential candidate drug.

Marijuana and hemp belong to the same genus and species. However, they are different in cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content.

Both CBD and THC are therapeutically beneficial. Hemp is harmless and non-addictive.

Major objective of this study is to investigate whether KY hemp extract can modulate the metastasis of ovarian cancer.

Based on the data here we conclude that KY hemp has significant anti-metastatic properties against ovarian cancer.”

Use and caregiver-reported efficacy of medical cannabis in children and adolescents in Switzerland

SpringerLink“Evidence on the use and efficacy of medical cannabis for children is limited. We examined clinical and epidemiological characteristics of medical cannabis treatment and caregiver-reported effects in children and adolescents in Switzerland.

We collected clinical data from children and adolescents (< 18 years) who received Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), or a combination of the two between 2008 and 2019 in Switzerland. Out of 205 contacted families, 90 agreed to participate. The median age at the first prescription was 11.5 years (interquartile range (IQR) 6-16), and 32 patients were female (36%). Fifty-one (57%) patients received CBD only and 39 (43%) THC. Patients were more likely to receive THC therapy if one of the following symptoms or signs were present: spasticity, pain, lack of weight gain, vomiting, or nausea, whereas seizures were the dominant indication for CBD therapy.

Improvements were reported in 59 (66%) study participants.

The largest treatment effects were reported for pain, spasticity, and frequency of seizures in participants treated with THC, and for those treated with pure CBD, the frequency of seizures. However, 43% of caregivers reported treatment interruptions, mainly because of lack of improvement (56%), side effects (46%), the need for a gastric tube (44%), and cost considerations (23%).

Conclusions: The effects of medical cannabis in children and adolescents with chronic conditions are unknown except for rare seizure disorders, but the caregiver-reported data analysed here may justify trials of medical cannabis with standardized concentrations of THC or CBD to assess its efficacy in the young.

What is Known: • The use of medical cannabis (THC and CBD) to treat a variety of diseases among children and adolescents is increasing. • In contrast to adults, there is no evidence to support the use of medical cannabis to treat chronic pain and spasticity in children, but substantial evidence to support the use of CBD in children with rare seizure disorders.

What is New: • This study provides important insights into prescription practices, dosages, and treatment outcomes in children and adolescents using medical cannabis data from a real-life setting.

• The effects of medical cannabis in children and adolescents with chronic conditions shown in our study support trials of medical cannabis for chronic conditions.”

“For two thirds of participants treated with standardized THC or CBD preparations, the caregiver reported an improvement in their condition and well-being. Medical cannabis could be a promising and useful therapy for children and adolescents with neurological conditions.”