Characterization of the biochemical and behavioral effects of cannabidiol: implications for migraine


Miriam Francavilla , Chiara Demartini , Anna Maria Zanaboni , Mikael H. Sodergren ,Rosaria Greco, Sara Facchetti , Barbara Pacchetti , Michela Palmisan , Valentina Franco and Cristina Tassorelli


May 3,  2023


Cannabidiol (CBD) is the main pharmacologically active phytocannabinoid. CBD exerts an analgesic effect in several pain models, does not have side effects and has low toxicity. The data about CBD mechanisms of action in pain and its therapeutic potential in this area are limited. Here, we tested CBD effects in animal models specific for migraine. We assayed CBD distribution in plasma and in cranial areas related to migraine pain in male Sprague Dawley rats treated chronically (5 days). Successively, we tested CBD activity on the behavioral and biochemical effects induced in the acute and the chronic migraine animal models by nitroglycerin (NTG) administration. In the acute migraine model, rats received CBD (15 mg or 30 mg/kg, i.p) 3 h after NTG (10 mg/kg i.p.) or vehicle injection. In the chronic migraine model, rats were treated with CBD and NTG every other day over nine days with the following doses: CBD 30 mg/kg i.p., NTG 10 mg/kg i.p. We evaluated behavioral parameters with the open field and the orofacial formalin tests.We explored the fatty acid amide hydrolase gene expression, cytokines mRNA and protein levels in selected brain areas and CGRP serum level. CBD levels in the meninges, trigeminal ganglia, cervical spinal cord, medulla pons, and plasma were higher 1 h after the last treatment than after 24 h, suggesting that CBD penetrates but does not accu- mulate in these tissues. In the acute model, CBD significantly reduced NTG-induced trigeminal hyperalgesia and CGRP and cytokine mRNA levels in peripheral and central sites. In the chronic model, CBD caused a significant decrease in NTG-induced IL-6 protein levels in the medulla–pons, and trigeminal ganglion. It also reduced CGRP serum levels. By contrast, CBD did not modulate TNF-alpha protein levels and fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) gene expression in any of investigated areas. In both experimental conditions, there was no modulation of anxiety, motor/exploratory behavior, or grooming. These findings show that CBD reaches brain areas involved in migraine pain after systemic administration. They also show for the first time that CBD modulates migraine-related nociceptive transmission, likely via a complex signaling mechanism involving different pathways.

DOI: 10.1186/s10194-023-01589-y


Greco, R., Francavilla, M., Demartini, C., Zanaboni, A. M., Sodergren, M. H., Facchetti, S., … & Tassorelli, C. (2023). Characterization of the biochemical and behavioral effects of cannabidiol: implications for migraine. The Journal of Headache and Pain, 24(1), 1-15.