Paolo Poli, Luana Peruzzi, Pierdomenico Maurizi, Antonella Mencucci, Antonella Scocca, Simona Carnevale, Ottavia Spiga and Annalisa Santucci


October 11,  2022


Background: The increase in the medical use of cannabis has revealed a number of beneficial effects, a variety of adverse side effects and great inter-individual variability. Association studies connecting consumption, addiction and side effects related to recreational cannabis use have led to the identification of several polymorphic genes that may play a role in the pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics of cannabis.

Method: In total, 600 patients treated with cannabis were genotyped for several candidate polymorphic genes (single-nucleotide polymorphism; SNP), encoding receptors CNR1 and TRPV1; for the ABCB1 transporter; for biotransformation, bioactivation and biosynthesis; and CYP3A4, COMT and UGT2B7 conjugation.

Results: Three polymorphic genes (ABCB1, TRPV1 and UGT2B7) were identified as being significantly associated with decline in pain after treatment with cannabis. Patients simultaneously carrying the most favourable allele combinations showed a greater reduction (polygenic effect) in pain compared to those with a less favourable combination. Considering genotype combinations, we could group patients into good responders, intermediate responders and poor or non-responders. Results suggest that genetic makeup is, at the moment, a significant predictive factor of the variability in response to cannabis.

Conclusions: This study proves, for the first time, that certain polymorphic candidate genes may be associated with cannabis effects, both in terms of pain management and side effects, including therapy dropout.

Significance: Our attention to pharmacogenetics began in 2008, with the publication of a first study on the association between genetic polymorphisms and morphine action in pain relief. The study we are presenting is the first observational study conducted on a large number of patients involving several polymorphic candidate genes. The data obtained suggest that genetic makeup can be a predictive factor in the response to cannabis therapy and that more extensive and planned studies are needed for the opening of new scenarios for the personalization of cannabis therapy.

DOI: 10.3390/genes13101832


Poli, P., Peruzzi, L., Maurizi, P., Mencucci, A., Scocca, A., Carnevale, S., … & Santucci, A. (2022). The Pharmacogenetics of Cannabis in the Treatment of Chronic Pain. Genes, 13(10), 1832.