In the past decade, significant advancements have been made in understanding the brain regions and neuronal circuits regulating neurological behaviors. The endocannabinoid (eCB) system, which is ubiquitously distributed in the brain and extensively involved in synaptic modulation, has been believed to play potential roles in neuronal circuit processes and related disorders. Although eCB-based pharmacological studies have made some clinical achievements, they still often encounter conflicting reports or undesired effects due to global manipulation of manifold brain regions and neuronal circuits, which impede the therapeutic application of eCB-based medications. In this review, we are devoted to discussing the versatile forms of eCB-mediated synaptic plasticity and dissecting currently well-studied specific cannabinoid circuits involved in behavioral domains which are closely linked to the organism’s survival and life quality, such as pain perception and stress-related emotion disorders. By gaining new insights into selective cannabinoid control in circuits, we can potentially mitigate the drawbacks of traditional pharmacology and facilitate the development of precision medicine with novel therapeutic strategies and drug discoveries.
Plasma concentrations of N-arachidonyletholamine (AEA), N-oleoylethanolamide (OEA) and N-palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) increase at term and can predict when a woman is likely to go into labour. We hypothesised that increased plasma AEA concentrations in women in preterm and term labour might also be increased and have a function in the placenta at the end of pregnancy. Here we examined the expression of the N-acylethanolamine-modulating enzymes fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) and N-acyl-phosphatidylethanolamine-specific phospholipase-D (NAPE-PLD) and of the cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) in the placenta and their activation in an in vitro model of the third-trimester placenta to determine if those expressions change with labour and have functional significance. Expression of CB1, CB2, FAAH and NAPE-PLD was examined by immunohistochemistry (IHC) and RT-qPCR in placental samples obtained from four patient groups: preterm not in labour (PTNL), term not in labour (TNL), preterm in labour (PTL) and term in labour (TL). Additionally, the effects of AEA on a third-trimester human cell line (TCL-1) were evaluated. All ECS components were present in the third-trimester placenta, with NAPE-PLD and CB2 being the key modulated proteins in terms of expression. Functionally, AEA reduced TCL-1 cell numbers through the actions of the CB2 receptor whilst CB1 maintained placental integrity through the expression of the transcription regulators histone deacetylase 3, thyroid hormone receptor β 1 and the modulation of 5α reductase type 1. The placenta in the third trimester and at term is different from the placenta in the first trimester with respect to the expression of CB1, CB2, FAAH and NAPE-PLD, and the expression of these proteins is affected by labour. These data suggest that early perturbation of some ECS components in the placenta may cause AEA-induced PTL and thus PTB.
Phytocannabinoids have been shown to inhibit the aggregation and neurotoxicity of the neurotoxic Alzheimer’s disease protein beta amyloid (Aβ). We characterised the capacity of six phytocannabinoids: cannabichromene, cannabigerol, cannabinol, cannabidivarin, cannabidiol and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, to disrupt Aβ aggregation and protect against Aβ-evoked neurotoxicity in PC12 cells. Neuroprotection against lipid peroxidation and Aβ-induced cytotoxicity was assessed using the MTT assay. Transmission electron microscopy was used to visualise phytocannabinoid effects on Aβ aggregation and fluorescence microscopy, with morphometrics and principal component analysis to assess PC12 cell morphology.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a prevalent inflammatory disease in which the immune system plays an essential role in the damage, inflammation, and demyelination of central nervous system neurons (CNS). The cannabinoid receptor type 2 (CB2) agonists possess anti-inflammatory effects against noxious stimuli and elevate the neuronal survival rate. We attempted to analyze the protective impact of low doses of β-Caryophyllene (BCP) in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) mice as a chronic MS model. Immunization of female C57BL/6 mice was achieved through two subcutaneous injections into different areas of the hind flank with an emulsion that consisted of myelin Myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG)35–55 (150 µg) and complete Freund’s adjuvant (CFA) (400 µg) with an equal volume. Two intraperitoneal (i.p.) injections of pertussis toxin (300 ng) were performed on the animals on day zero (immunizations day) and 48 h (2nd day) after injection of MOG + CFA. The defensive effect of low doses of BCP (2.5 and 5 mg/kg/d) was investigated in the presence and absence of a CB2 receptor antagonist (1 mg/kg, AM630) in the EAE model. We also examined the pro/anti-inflammatory cytokine levels and the polarization of brain microglia and spleen lymphocytes in EAE animals. According to our findings, low doses of BCP offered protective impacts in the EAE mice treatment in a CB2 receptor-dependent way. In addition, according to results, BCP decreased the pathological and clinical defects in EAE mice via modulating adaptive (lymphocytes) and innate (microglia) immune systems from inflammatory phenotypes (M1/Th1/Th17) to anti-inflammatory (M2/Th2/Treg) phenotypes. Additionally, BCP elevated the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 and reduced blood inflammatory cytokines. BCP almost targeted the systemic immune system more than the CNS immune system. Thus, a low dose of BCP can be suggested as a therapeutic effect on MS treatment with potent anti-inflammatory effects and possibly lower toxicity.
An estimated 60% of melanoma patients develop melanoma brain metastases (MBMs). However, the molecular factors that govern the growth of MBMs are still unknown. The excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate has been shown to control the proliferation of various types of cancer cells within the brain parenchyma, but the cellular sources and molecular mechanisms involved in this process remain unclear. By their well-known role in inhibiting synaptic glutamate release, cannabinoid CB1 receptors (CB1Rs) located on glutamatergic nerve terminals are conceivably well-positioned to control the growth of MBMs. In silico data mining in cancer-genome atlases and in vitro studies with melanoma cell lines supported that a glutamate-NMDA receptor axis drives melanoma cell proliferation. Strikingly, grafting melanoma cells into the brain of mice lacking CB1Rs selectively in glutamatergic neurons increased tumour size and concomitantly activated NMDA receptors on tumour cells. Altogether, our findings reveal an unprecedented role of neuronal CB1Rs in controlling MBMs.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) represents a major cause of morbidity and disability and is a risk factor for developing neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD). However, no effective therapies are currently available for TBI-induced AD-like disease. Endocannabinoids are endogenous lipid mediators involved in a variety of physiological and pathological processes. The compound 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) is the most abundant endocannabinoid with profound anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the most common neurodegenerative disease, is characterized by progressive cognitive impairment. The deposition of amyloid beta (Aβ) and hyperphosphorylated tau is considered the hallmark of AD pathology. Many therapeutic approaches such as Food and Drug Administration-approved cholinesterase inhibitors and N–methyl–D–aspartate receptor antagonists have been used to intervene in AD pathology. However, current therapies only provide limited symptomatic relief and are ineffective in preventing AD progression. Cannabidiol (CBD), a phytocannabinoid devoid of psychoactive responses, provides neuroprotective effects through both cannabinoid and noncannabinoid receptors. Recent studies using an AD mouse model have suggested that CBD can reverse cognitive deficits along with Aβ-induced neuroinflammatory, oxidative responses, and neuronal death.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) employs a huge network of molecules (receptors, ligands, and enzymatic machinery molecules) whose interactions with other cellular networks have still not been fully elucidated. Endogenous cannabinoids are molecules with the primary function of control of multiple metabolic pathways. Maintenance of tissue and cellular homeostasis by functional fine-tuning of essential metabolic pathways is one of the key characteristics of the ECS. It is implicated in a variety of physiological and pathological states and an attractive pharmacological target yet to reach its full potential. This review will focus on the involvement of ECS in glucose and lipid metabolism, food intake regulation, immune homeostasis, respiratory health, inflammation, cancer and other physiological and pathological states will be substantiated using freely available data from open-access databases, experimental data and literature review.
Authors: Beat Lutz, PhD Published in DIALOGUES IN CLINICAL NEUROSCIENCE 2020 Abstract The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a highly versatile signaling system within the nervous system. Despite its widespread localization,…