Phytocannabinoid Pharmacology: Medicinal Properties of Cannabis sativa Constituents Aside from the “Big Two”

 Go to Volume 0, Issue 0“Plant-based therapies date back centuries. Cannabis sativa is one such plant that was used medicinally up until the early part of the 20th century.

Although rich in diverse and interesting phytochemicals, cannabis was largely ignored by the modern scientific community due to its designation as a schedule 1 narcotic and restrictions on access for research purposes. There was renewed interest in the early 1990s when the endocannabinoid system (ECS) was discovered, a complex network of signaling pathways responsible for physiological homeostasis. Two key components of the ECS, cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2), were identified as the molecular targets of the phytocannabinoid Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC).

Restrictions on access to cannabis have eased worldwide, leading to a resurgence in interest in the therapeutic potential of cannabis. Much of the focus has been on the two major constituents, Δ9-THC and cannabidiol (CBD). Cannabis contains over 140 phytocannabinoids, although only a handful have been tested for pharmacological activity. Many of these minor cannabinoids potently modulate receptors, ionotropic channels, and enzymes associated with the ECS and show therapeutic potential individually or synergistically with other phytocannabinoids.

The following review will focus on the pharmacological developments of the next generation of phytocannabinoid therapeutics.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33356248/

https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.jnatprod.0c00965

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Healing autism spectrum disorder with cannabinoids: a neuroinflammatory story

 Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews“Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder with a multifactorial etiology. Latest researches are raising the hypothesis of a link between the onset of the main behavioral symptoms of ASD and the chronic neuroinflammatory condition of the autistic brain; increasing evidence of this connection is shedding light on new possible players in the pathogenesis of ASD.

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) has a key role in neurodevelopment as well as in normal inflammatory responses and it is not surprising that many preclinical and clinical studies account for alterations of the endocannabinoid signaling in ASD. These findings lay the foundation for a better understanding of the neurochemical mechanisms underlying ASD and for new therapeutic attempts aimed at exploiting the renowned anti-inflammatory properties of cannabinoids to treat pathologies encompassed in the autistic spectrum.

This review discusses the current preclinical and clinical evidence supporting a key role of the ECS in the neuroinflammatory state that characterizes ASD, providing hints to identify new biomarkers in ASD and promising therapies for the future.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33358985/

“Autism spectrum disorder has a multifactorial and complex etiology. Changes in the endocannabinoid system are found in autistic patients. Neuroinflammation is detected in autistic patients. The endocannabinoid system has a key role in neuroinflammation. Future therapies exploiting cannabinoid drugs.”

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0149763420306850?via%3Dihub

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Cannabinoids in Metabolic Syndrome and Cardiac Fibrosis

 SpringerLink“This article provides a concise overview of how cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system (ECS) have significant implications for the prevention and treatment of metabolic syndrome (MetS) and for the treatment of cardiovascular disorders, including cardiac fibrosis.

Recent findings: Over the past few years, the ECS has emerged as a pivotal component of the homeostatic mechanisms for the regulation of many bodily functions, including inflammation, digestion, and energy metabolism. Therefore, the pharmacological modulation of the ECS by cannabinoids represents a novel strategy for the management of many diseases. Specifically, increasing evidence from preclinical research studies has opened new avenues for the development of cannabinoid-based therapies for the management and potential treatment of MetS and cardiovascular diseases. Current information indicates that modulation of the ECS can help maintain overall health and well-being due to its homeostatic function. From a therapeutic perspective, cannabinoids and the ECS have also been shown to play a key role in modulating pathophysiological states such as inflammatory, neurodegenerative, gastrointestinal, metabolic, and cardiovascular diseases, as well as cancer and pain. Thus, targeting and modulating the ECS with cannabinoids or cannabinoid derivatives may represent a major disease-modifying medical advancement to achieve successful treatment for MetS and certain cardiovascular diseases.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33089434/

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11906-020-01112-7

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Medical cannabis for chronic pain: can it make a difference in pain management?

SpringerLink “Globally, chronic pain is a major therapeutic challenge and affects more than 15% of the population. As patients with painful terminal diseases may face unbearable pain, there is a need for more potent analgesics.

Although opioid-based therapeutic agents received attention to manage severe pain, their adverse drug effects and mortality rate associated with opioids overdose are the major concerns. Evidences from clinical trials showed therapeutic benefits of cannabis, especially delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabinoids reduced neuropathic pain intensity in various conditions. Also, there are reports on using combination cannabinoid therapies for chronic pain management.

The association of cannabis dependence and addiction has been discussed much and the reports mentioned that it can be comparatively lower than other substances such as nicotine and alcohol. More countries have decided to legalise the medicinal use of cannabis and marijuana. Healthcare professionals should keep themselves updated with the changing state of medical cannabis and its applications.

The pharmacokinetics and safety of medical cannabis need to be studied by conducting clinical research. The complex and variable chemically active contents of herbal cannabis and methodological limitations in the administration of cannabis to study participants, make the clinical research difficult.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31535218/

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00540-019-02680-y

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Cannabinoid-profiled agents improve cell survival via reduction of oxidative stress and inflammation, and Nrf2 activation in a toxic model combining hyperglycemia+Aβ 1-42 peptide in rat hippocampal neurons

Neurochemistry International “Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a multifactorial neurodegenerative disorder linked to various converging toxic mechanisms. Evidence suggests that hyperglycemia induces oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, inflammation and excitotoxicity, all of which play important roles in the onset and progression of AD pathogenesis.

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) orchestrates major physiological responses, including neuronal plasticity, neuroprotection, and redox homeostasis, to name a few. The multi-targeted effectiveness of the ECS emerges as a potential approach to treat AD.

Here we characterized the protective properties of the endocannabinoids arachidonylethanolamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), the synthetic cannabinoids CP 55-940 and WIN 55,212-2, and the fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) inhibitor URB597, on a combined hyperglycemia+oligomeric amyloid β peptide (Aβ1-42) neurotoxic model in primary hippocampal neurons which exhibit several AD features.

All agents tested preserved cell viability and stimulated mitochondrial membrane potential, while reducing all the evaluated toxic endpoints in a differential manner, with URB597 showing the highest efficacy. The neuroprotective efficacy of all cannabinoid agents, except for URB597, led to partial recruitment of specific antioxidant activity and Nrf2 pathway regulation.

Our results support the neuroprotective potential of these agents at low concentrations against the damaging effects of GLU+Aβ1-42, affording new potential modalities for the design of AD therapies.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32781098/

“All cannabinoid agents prevented the GLU + Aβ1-42 toxicity in a differential manner. All cannabinoid agents recruited Nrf2 signaling to protect cells.”

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0197018620302084?via%3Dihub

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Cannabidiol normalizes resting-state functional connectivity in treatment-resistant epilepsy

See the source image“Resting-state (rs) network dysfunction is a contributing factor to treatment resistance in epilepsy. In treatment-resistant epilepsy (TRE), pharmacological and nonpharmacological therapies have been shown to improve such dysfunction.

In this study, our goal was to prospectively evaluate the effect of highly purified plant-derived cannabidiol (CBD; Epidiolex®) on rs functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) functional connectivity (rs-FC).

We hypothesized that CBD would change and potentially normalize the rs-FC in TRE.

Results: Participants with TRE showed average decrease of 71.7% in SF (p < 0.0001) and improved CSSS, AEP, and POMS confusion, depression, and fatigue subscores (all p < 0.05) on-CBD with POMS scores becoming similar to those of HCs. Paired t-tests showed significant pre-/on-CBD changes in rs-FC in cerebellum, frontal areas, temporal areas, hippocampus, and amygdala with some of them correlating with improvement in behavioral measures. Significant differences in rs-FC between pre-CBD and HCs were found in cerebellum, frontal, and occipital regions. After controlling for changes in SF with CBD, these differences were no longer present when comparing on-CBD to HCs.

Significance: This study indicates that highly purified CBD modulates and potentially normalizes rs-FC in the epileptic brain. This effect may underlie its efficacy. This study provides Class III evidence for CBD’s normalizing effect on rs-FC in TRE.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32745959/

https://www.epilepsybehavior.com/article/S1525-5050(20)30476-5/fulltext

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Cannabis, the Endocannabinoid System and Immunity-the Journey From the Bedside to the Bench and Back

ijms-logo“The Cannabis plant contains numerous components, including cannabinoids and other active molecules. The phyto-cannabinoid activity is mediated by the endocannabinoid system. Cannabinoids affect the nervous system and play significant roles in the regulation of the immune system.

While Cannabis is not yet registered as a drug, the potential of cannabinoid-based medicines for the treatment of various conditions has led many countries to authorize their clinical use. However, the data from basic and medical research dedicated to medical Cannabis is currently limited.

A variety of pathological conditions involve dysregulation of the immune system. For example, in cancer, immune surveillance and cancer immuno-editing result in immune tolerance. On the other hand, in autoimmune diseases increased immune activity causes tissue damage.

Immuno-modulating therapies can regulate the immune system and therefore the immune-regulatory properties of cannabinoids, suggest their use in the therapy of immune related disorders.

In this contemporary review, we discuss the roles of the endocannabinoid system in immunity and explore the emerging data about the effects of cannabinoids on the immune response in different pathologies. In addition, we discuss the complexities of using cannabinoid-based treatments in each of these conditions.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32585801/

https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/21/12/4448

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SARS-CoV2 induced respiratory distress: Can Cannabinoids be added to anti-viral therapies to reduce lung inflammation?

Brain, Behavior, and Immunity“Coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19), caused by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronoavirus-2 (SARS-CoV2) has emerged as a global pandemic, which was first reported in Wuhan, China. Recent reports have suggested that acute infection is associated with a cytokine superstorm, which contributes to the symptoms of fever, cough, muscle pain and in severe cases bilateral interstitial pneumonia characterized by ground glass opacity and focal chest infiltrates that can be visualized on computerized tomography scans. Currently, there are no effective antiviral drugs or vaccines against SARS-CoV2. In the recent issue of BBI, Zhang et al. thoroughly summarized the current status of potential therapeutic strategies for COVID-19. One of them, anti-IL6 receptor (Tocilizumab) antibody, resulted in clearance of lung consolidation and recovery in 90% of the 21 treated patients. Although promising, it has also produced adverse effects like pancreatitis and hypertriglyceridemia, which make it imperative to explore effective alternative anti-inflammatory strategies. Here, we intend to highlight the potential effects of cannabinoids, in particular, the non-psychotropic cannabidiol (CBD), that has shown beneficial anti-inflammatory effects in pre-clinical models of various chronic inflammatory diseases and is FDA approved for seizure reduction in children with intractable epilepsy.

Like Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC), the most well-studied cannabinoid, CBD decreased lung inflammation in a murine model of acute lung injury potentially through the inhibition of proinflammatory cytokine production by immune cells and suppressing exuberant immune responses. CBD can inhibit the production of proinflammatory cytokines like interleukin (IL)-2, IL-6, IL-1α and β, interferon gamma, inducible protein-10, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1, macrophage inflammatory protein-1α, and tumor necrosis factor-α that have been associated with SARS-CoV2 induced multi-organ pathology and mortality. In a murine model of chronic asthma, CBD reduced proinflammatory cytokine production, airway inflammation and fibrosis. Moreover, CBD can effectively inhibit the JAK-STAT pathway including the production and action of type I interferons without leading to addiction, alterations in heart rate or blood pressure and adverse effects on the gastrointestinal tract and cognition. In simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)-infected rhesus macaques (RMs), we reported THC mediated attenuation of IFN stimulated gene expression in the intestine. Similar to CBD, chronic THC administration blocked inflammation induced fibrosis in lymph nodes of chronically SIV-infected RMs. Unlike THC, CBD has a high margin of safety and is well tolerated pharmacologically even after treatments of up to 1500 mg/day for two weeks in both animals and humans, which suggests its feasibility to reduce SARS-CoV2 induced lung inflammation/pathology and disease severity.

The many uncertainties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic such as status of the economy, employment and loss of connection can fuel depression, fear and anxiety. CBD has shown promise as an alternative therapy for the clinical management of anxiety disorders. Based on its anxiolytic and anti-depressant properties, it has been suggested that CBD could be used to improve the mental and somatic health of patients suffering from anxiety and emotional stress after recovering from Ebola disease. Like Ebola, patients recovering from COVID-19 may experience various psychological and social stressors that may be triggered by residual chronic inflammation and autoimmune reactions. Therefore, randomized clinical trials to test the efficacy of CBD on alleviating anxiety and fear associated with COVID-19 infection and its consequences on people’s physical, social and psychological well-being may be beneficial in the future. Additionally, severely ill COVID-19 patients exhibited neurological symptoms like cerebrovascular disease, headache and disturbed consciousness (Reviewed in. Brain edema, neuronal degeneration and presence of SARS-CoV2 in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) were confirmed at autopsy. Therefore, longitudinal CSF sampling using non-human primate (NHP) studies may help clarify whether and when SARS-CoV2 invades the brain, and if this happens, does it result in neuroinflammation and more importantly, whether cannabinoids can modulate these events.

Being a negative allosteric modulator of the cannabinoid receptor-1, CBD can counter the psychotropic effects of THC when co-administered with THC. Although Remdesivir reduced the mortality rate of seriously ill COVID-19 patients needing invasive ventilation, similar studies in rhesus macaques revealed minimal subpleural inflammatory cellular infiltrates in the lungs of clinically recovered Remdesivir treated RMs at necropsy. This suggests persistence of inflammation and may partly explain the 20–30% reduction in lung function in COVID-19 patients after recovery, which if left unresolved may lead to pulmonary fibrosis. Collectively, these findings support the investigation of cannabinoids as a plausible option to be added as an adjunct to Remdesivir or any new antivirals on SARS-CoV2 induced lung inflammation.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32360437

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0889159120307078?via%3Dihub

“Cannabis Indica speeds up Recovery from Coronavirus”   https://www.researchgate.net/publication/339746853_Cannabis_Indica_speeds_up_Recovery_from_Coronavirus

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Synergistic cytotoxic activity of cannabinoids from cannabis sativa against cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) in-vitro and ex-vivo.

 Peer-reviewed Oncology & Cancer Research Journal | Oncotarget“Cannabis sativa produces hundreds of phytocannabinoids and terpenes.

Mycosis fungoides (MF) is the most common type of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL), characterized by patches, plaques and tumors. Sézary is a leukemic stage of CTCL presenting with erythroderma and the presence of neoplastic Sézary T-cells in peripheral blood.

This study aimed to identify active compounds from whole cannabis extracts and their synergistic mixtures, and to assess respective cytotoxic activity against CTCL cells.

This mixture induced cell cycle arrest and cell apoptosis. Significant cytotoxic activity of the corresponding mixture of pure phytocannabinoids further verified genuine interaction between S4 and S5.

We suggest that specifying formulations of synergistic active cannabis compounds and unraveling their modes of action may lead to new cannabis-based therapies.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32284791

“Cannabis sativa has been used by humanity for thousands of years. Various phytocannabinoids exhibit antitumor effects in a wide array of cell lines and animal models. We have shown that a certain synergistic mixture of phytocannabinoids derived from C. sativa extracts have significant cytotoxic activity against My-La and HuT-78 cell lines and against SPBL.

To conclude, active cannabis extract fractions and their synergistic combinations were cytotoxic to CTCL cell lines in in-vitro and to SPBL in ex-vivo studies. The defined S4+S5 formulation of synergistic phytocannabinoids induced cell cycle arrest and cell apoptosis, and affected multiple biological pathways, including those associated with cancer. Based on this pre-clinical study new cannabis-based products that are based on precise composition of synergistically interacting compounds may be developed.”

https://www.oncotarget.com/article/27528/text/

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Cannabinoids and Hormone Receptor-Positive Breast Cancer Treatment.

cancers-logo “Breast cancer (BC) is the most common cancer in women worldwide. Approximately 70-80% of BCs express estrogen receptors (ER), which predict the response to endocrine therapy (ET), and are therefore hormone receptor-positive (HR+).

Endogenous cannabinoids together with cannabinoid receptor 1 and 2 (CB1, CB2) constitute the basis of the endocannabinoid system.

Interactions of cannabinoids with hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis hormones are well documented, and two studies found a positive correlation between peak plasma endogenous cannabinoid anandamide with peak plasma 17β-estradiol, luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone levels at ovulation in healthy premenopausal women. Do cannabinoids have an effect on HR+ BC? In this paper we review known and possible interactions between cannabinoids and specific HR+ BC treatments.

In preclinical studies, CB1 and CB2 agonists (i.e., anandamide, THC) have been shown to inhibit the proliferation of ER positive BC cell lines.

There is less evidence for antitumor cannabinoid action in HR+ BC in animal models and there are no clinical trials exploring the effects of cannabinoids on HR+ BC treatment outcomes. Two studies have shown that tamoxifen and several other selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERM) can act as inverse agonists on CB1 and CB2, an interaction with possible clinical consequences. In addition, cannabinoid action could interact with other commonly used endocrine and targeted therapies used in the treatment of HR+ BC.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32106399

https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6694/12/3/525

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