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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Medical Cannabis for the Management of Pain and Quality of Life in Chronic Pain Patients: A Prospective Observational Study

Pain Medicine (Journal) by Oxford University Press

“Objective: To evaluate the short-term and long-term effects of plant-based medical cannabis in a chronic pain population over the course of one year.

Results: Medical cannabis treatment was associated with improvements in pain severity and interference (P < 0.001) observed at one month and maintained over the 12-month observation period. Significant improvements were also observed in the SF-12 physical and mental health domains (P < 0.002) starting at three months. Significant decreases in headaches, fatigue, anxiety, and nausea were observed after initiation of treatment (P ≤ 0.002). In patients who reported opioid medication use at baseline, there were significant reductions in oral morphine equivalent doses (P < 0.0001), while correlates of pain were significantly improved by the end of the study observation period.

Conclusions: Taken together, the findings of this study add to the cumulative evidence in support of plant-based medical cannabis as a safe and effective treatment option and potential opioid medication substitute or augmentation therapy for the management of symptoms and quality of life in chronic pain patients.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32556203/

https://academic.oup.com/painmedicine/article-abstract/doi/10.1093/pm/pnaa163/5859722?redirectedFrom=fulltext

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Effectiveness of Cannabidiol in a Prospective Cohort of Children With Drug-Resistant Epileptic Encephalopathy in Argentina

“We report our preliminary findings regarding effectiveness, safety, and tolerability of cannabidiol (CBD) added to antiepileptic therapy in a cohort of children with drug-resistant epileptic encephalopathies (EEs) with a mean follow-up of 8.5 months (range, 3-12 months).

Methods: A prospective cohort study was designed with the aim of assessing the effectiveness, safety, and tolerability of the addition of CBD to standard antiseizure medications (ASMs) in children with drug-resistant EE enrolled at a single center (Neurology Department, Hospital de Pediatría “Juan P. Garrahan”, Buenos Aires, Argentina).

Results: Fifty patients were enrolled between October 2018 and October 2019, 49 of whom had a follow-up of at least 3 months at the time this interim analysis was performed. Mean age at enrollment was 10.5 years (range 2-16). Median age at first seizure was 7 months. Up to the last visit of each patient (follow-up 3-12 months) 39/49 children (80 %) had responded to treatment with a decrease in seizure frequency. Overall, 77.6 % of the patients had a seizure reduction of at least 25 %, 73.5 % had a ≥ 50 % reduction, and 49 % had a ≥ 75 % reduction. Mean monthly seizure frequency was reduced from 959 to 381 (median decrease from 299 to 102, range, 38-1900; median decrease 66 %, p < 0.001). All adverse effects were mild or moderate. The most common adverse effect was drowsiness (in 32 %), usually reversed by adjusting clobazam dose (in 12 children).

Conclusion: In children with drug-resistant EEs, CBD oil as an adjuvant therapy to antiepileptic therapy seems safe, well tolerated, and effective.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32544657/

“Cannibidiol showed good effectiveness, with a ≥ 50 % reduction in seizure frequency in 73.5 % of the patients. Good results were obtained in patients with Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes. In epileptic encephalopathies other than Lennox-Gastaut results were also good. Cannabidiol showed good safety and tolerability as all adverse effects were mild or moderate.”

https://www.seizure-journal.com/article/S1059-1311(20)30167-9/pdf

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Long-term Assessment of the Cognitive Effects of Nabiximols in Patients With Multiple Sclerosis: A Pilot Study

Clinical Neurology and Neurosurgery “Moderate to severe spasticity is commonly reported in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and its management is still a challenge. Cannabinoids were recently suggested as add-on therapy for the treatment of spasticity and chronic pain in MS but there is no conclusive scientific evidence on their safety, especially on cognition and over long periods.

The aim of this prospective pilot study was to assess the long-term effects of a tetrahydrocannabinol-cannabidiol (THC/CBD) oromucosal spray (Sativex®) on cognition, mood and anxiety.

Results: Twenty per protocol patients were followed up and evaluated at baseline, 6 and 12 months. Domains involving processing speed and auditory verbal memory significantly improved within the first 6 months of therapy (SDMT: p < 0.001; CVLT: p = 0.0001). Mood and anxiety did not show any significant variation. Additionally, the NRS score significantly improved since the beginning (p < 0.0001).

Conclusions: These results are encouraging in supporting possible long-term benefits of Sativex on cognition and a wider role than symptom alleviator. Further studies on larger groups of patients would be necessary in order to test this intriguing possibility.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32526487/

“Under Nabiximols some cognitive domains improved after 12 months, and the therapy was safely tolerated.”

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0303846720303334?via%3Dihub

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Medicinal Cannabis Effective for Chronic Insomnia in Clinical Trial

April 2020 cover“A randomized double-blind clinical trial evaluating the efficacy of a medicinal cannabis formulation (ZTL-101; Zelira Therapeutics Ltd, Perth, Australia) for treating chronic insomnia showed that the therapy is effective and safe.

Participants treated with medicinal cannabis went to sleep faster, slept significantly longer, and went back to sleep sooner after waking. Those participants reported significant improvements in quality of life, including feeling rested after sleep, feeling less stressed and less fatigued, and overall improved functioning.

For the trial, 23 participants were treated with the therapy for 14 nights, and after a 1-week washout period, received a placebo for 14 nights. Each participant took a single dose (.5 ml of 11.5 mg total cannabinoids) or a double dose (1 ml of 23 mg total cannabinoids) of the therapy, delivered sublingually, according to their symptoms.

“The fact that ZTL-101 treatment achieved statistically significant, dose-responsive improvements across a broad range of key insomnia indices is impressive, particularly given the relatively short 2-week dosing window,” said Peter Eastwood, director, Centre for Sleep Science, University of Western Australia.”

https://practicalneurology.com/news/medicinal-cannabis-effective-for-chronic-insomnia-in-clinical-trial

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Cannabinoid as Beneficial Replacement Therapy for Psychotropics to Treat Neuropsychiatric Symptoms in Severe Alzheimer’s Dementia: A Clinical Case Report

CrossFit | 190629“Alzheimer’s Dementia (AD) is a devastating neurodegenerative disease that affects approximately 17% of people aged 75-84. Neuropsychiatric symptoms (NPS) such as delusions, agitation, anxiety, and hallucinations are present in up to 95% of patients in all stages of dementia. To date, any approved and effective pharmacological interventions for the treatment of NPS are still not available.

We describe a clinical case of a female patient diagnosed with AD with continuous cognitive decline and dementia-related behavioral symptoms. Between 2008 and 2019, the patient was examined half-yearly at the memory clinic of the Medical University of Innsbruck. At each visit, cognitive state and pharmacological treatment were evaluated. In addition, NPs were assessed by using the neuropsychiatric inventory (NPI). In 2018, the patient progressed to severe AD stage and presented with progressive NPs (anxiety, suspected delusions, agitation, aggressive behavior, and suspected pain due to long immobility).

Consequently, off-label treatment with low-dose dronabinol was initiated, which facilitated a reduction of psychopharmacological treatment from six to three psychotropics. At the same time, the patient’s emotional state improved, while disruptive behavior, aggression, and sedation decreased significantly. This case report underpins the need for randomized, controlled trials to explore the effect of cannabinoid receptor agonists on behavioral and psychological symptoms in patients with severe AD.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32477187/

“Cannabinoids have a distinct pharmacologic profile that may offer an alternative pharmacologic approach to antipsychotics and sedatives for treating NPs in patients with AD. In addition, the beneficial effect on appetite and pain may significantly improve quality of life of AD-patients and their caregivers.”

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2020.00413/full

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Does Cannabidiol Have Antiseizure Activity Independent of Its Interactions With Clobazam? An Appraisal of the Evidence From Randomized Controlled Trials

 Epilepsia“Four pivotal randomized placebo-controlled trials have demonstrated that adjunctive therapy with cannabidiol (CBD) improves seizure control in patients with Dravet syndrome (DS) and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS).

Between 47% and 68% of patients allocated to CBD treatment in these trials were receiving clobazam (CLB), which shows complex interactions with CBD resulting, in particular, in a 3.4- to 5-fold increase in plasma concentration of the active metabolite norclobazam. This raises concern as to the role played by these interactions in determining the reduction in seizure frequency in CBD-treated patients, and the question of whether CBD per se has clinically evident antiseizure effects.

We appraised available evidence on the clinical consequences of the CBD-CLB interaction, focusing on subgroup analyses of seizure outcomes in patients on and off CLB comedication in the pivotal CBD trials, as provided by the European Medicines Agency Public Assessment Report.

Evaluation of the results of individual trials clearly showed that improvement in seizure control over placebo was greater when CBD was added on to CLB than when it was added on to other medications. However, seizure control was also improved in patients off CLB, and despite the small sample size the difference vs placebo was statistically significant for the 10 mg/kg/d dose in one of the two LGS trials.

Stronger evidence for an antiseizure effect of CBD independent of an interaction with CLB emerges from meta-analyses of seizure outcomes in the pooled population of LGS and DS patients not receiving CLB comedication.

Although these results need to be interpreted taking into account methodological limitations, they provide the best clinical evidence to date that CBD exerts therapeutic effects in patients with epilepsy that are independent of its interaction with CLB. Greater antiseizure effects, and a greater burden of adverse effects, are observed when CBD is combined with CLB.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32452568/

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/epi.16542

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Inhibitor of Differentiation 1 (Id1) in Cancer and Cancer Therapy.

International Journal of Medical Sciences“The inhibitor of DNA binding (Id) proteins are regulators of cell cycle and cell differentiation. Of all Id family proteins, Id1 is mostly linked to tumorigenesis, cellular senescence as well as cell proliferation and survival.

Overall, Id1 represent a promising target of anti-tumor therapeutics based on its potent promotion effect to cancer. Numerous drugs were found exerting their anti-tumor function through Id1-related signaling pathways, such as fucoidan, berberine, tetramethylpyrazine, crizotinib, cannabidiol and vinblastine.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32410828

“Id1 is a promising target of anti-tumor treatment as many compounds exert anti-tumor properties by mediating Id1-related pathways.”

https://www.medsci.org/v17p0995.htm

“Cannabidiol as a novel inhibitor of Id-1 gene expression in aggressive breast cancer cells. CBD represents the first nontoxic exogenous agent that can significantly decrease Id-1 expression in metastatic breast cancer cells leading to the down-regulation of tumor aggressiveness. Moreover, reducing Id-1 expression with cannabinoids could also provide a therapeutic strategy for the treatment of additional aggressive cancers because Id-1 expression was found to be up-regulated during the progression of almost all types of solid tumors investigated.”

https://mct.aacrjournals.org/content/6/11/2921

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Beneficial effects of the phytocannabinoid Δ9-THCV in L-DOPA-induced dyskinesia in Parkinson’s disease.

Neurobiology of Disease“The antioxidant and CB2 receptor agonist properties of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabivarin (Δ9-THCV) afforded neuroprotection in experimental Parkinson’s disease (PD), whereas its CB1 receptor antagonist profile at doses lower than 5 mg/kg caused anti-hypokinetic effects.

In the present study, we investigated the anti-dyskinetic potential of Δ9-THCV (administered i.p. at 2 mg/kg for two weeks), which had not been investigated before.

In summary, our data support the anti-dyskinetic potential of Δ9-THCV, both to delay the occurrence and to attenuate the magnitude of dyskinetic signs. Although further studies are clearly required to determine the clinical significance of these data in humans, the results nevertheless situate Δ9-THCV in a promising position for developing a cannabinoid-based therapy for patients with PD.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32387338

“Δ9-THCV exhibited anti-dyskinetic properties in L-DOPA-treated Pitx3ak mutant mice. It delayed the onset of dyskinetic signs and reduced their neurochemical changes. It also reduced their intensity when given once dyskinesia was already present. This potential adds to other properties of Δ9-THCV as antiparkinsonian therapy.

In summary, our data support the anti-dyskinetic potential of Δ9-THCV to ameliorate adverse effects caused by L-DOPA, in particular delaying the occurrence and attenuating the magnitude of dyskinetic signs. This adds to its promising symptom-alleviating and neuroprotective properties described previously. Although further studies are clearly required to determine the clinical significance of these data in humans, the results nevertheless situate Δ9-THCV in a promising position for developing a cannabinoid-based therapy for PD patients.”

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0969996120301674?via%3Dihub

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A Comprehensive Patient and Public Involvement Program Evaluating Perception of Cannabis-Derived Medicinal Products in the Treatment of Acute Postoperative Pain, Nausea, and Vomiting Using a Qualitative Thematic Framework.

View details for Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research cover image“Cannabis-derived medicinal products (CDMPs) have antiemetic properties and in combination with opioids have synergistic analgesic effects in part signaling through the delta and kappa opioid receptors.

The objective of this patient and public involvement program was to determine perception of perioperative CDMPs in our local population to inform design of a clinical trial.

Consensus was that potential benefits of CDMPs were attractive compared with the known risk profile of opioid use. Decrease in opioid dependence was agreed to be an appropriate clinical end-point for a randomized controlled clinical trial and there was concurrence of positive opinion of a therapeutic schedule of 5 days.

The perception of postoperative CDMP therapy was overwhelmingly positive in this West London population. The data from this thematic analysis will inform protocol development of clinical trials to determine analgesic and antiemetic efficacy of CDMPs.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32322678

https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/can.2019.0020

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