ArticlePDF Available

Abstract

Previous reports have demonstrated that the combination of Δ 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ 9-THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) botanical extracts, which are the components of an already approved cannabis-based medicine, reduce the Alzheimer-like phenotype of AβPP/PS1 transgenic mice when chronically administered during the early symptomatic stage. Here, we provide evidence that such natural cannabinoids are still effective in reducing memory impairment in AβPP/PS1 mice at advanced stages of the disease but are not effective in modifying the Aβ processing or in reducing the glial reactivity associated with aberrant Aβ deposition as occurs when administered at early stages of the disease. The present study also demonstrates that natural cannabinoids do not affect cognitive impairment associated with healthy aging in wild-type mice. The positive effects induced by Δ 9-THC and CBD in aged AβPP/PS1 mice are associated with reduced GluR2/3 and increased levels of GABA-A Rα1 in cannabinoid-treated animals when compared with animals treated with vehicle alone.
A preview of the PDF is not available
... The results were surprising to us, because previous studies administering THC alone or in combination with CBD in a transgenic AD mouse model showed that THC/CBD was similarly effective in improving cognitive performance as THC alone in an object recognition test. THC/CBD was even more effective in reducing the production of soluble Aβ42 in an Alzheimer mouse model than THC alone (Aso et al., 2015(Aso et al., , 2016. Further, it has been shown that chronic THC administration (3 mg/kg/day) to young mice impaired cognitive performance in a novel object recognition paradigm and that this detrimental effect was prevented by co-administration of CBD (Murphy et al., 2017). ...
... Later, the same group also demonstrated that the combination of THC and CBD was also efficient in reducing the memory impairment in aged mice with AD-like pathology at advanced stages of the disease. Conversely, the same study reported that THC and CBD combination could not restore the memory impairment caused by physiological aging in mice (Aso et al., 2016). In accordance with this, our data also suggest that the concurrent administration of THC and CBD (each 1 mg/kg/day) is less effective in improving the learning ability in aged mice than THC alone. ...
Article
Full-text available
Decline in cognitive performance, an aspect of the normal aging process, is influenced by the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) signaling diminishes with advancing age in specific brain regions that regulate learning and memory and abolishing CB1 receptor signaling accelerates cognitive aging in mice. We recently demonstrated that prolonged exposure to low dose (3 mg/kg/day) Δ ⁹ -tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) improved the cognitive performances in old mice on par with young untreated mice. Here we investigated the potential influence of cannabidiol (CBD) on this THC effect, because preclinical and clinical studies indicate that the combination of THC and CBD often exhibits an enhanced therapeutic effect compared to THC alone. We first tested the effectiveness of a lower dose (1 mg/kg/day) THC, and then the efficacy of the combination of THC and CBD in 1:1 ratio, same as in the clinically approved medicine Sativex ® . Our findings reveal that a 1 mg/kg/day THC dose still effectively improved spatial learning in aged mice. However, a 1:1 combination of THC and CBD failed to do so. The presence of CBD induced temporal changes in THC metabolism ensuing in a transient elevation of blood THC levels. However, as CBD metabolizes, the inhibitory effect on THC metabolism was alleviated, causing a rapid clearance of THC. Thus, the beneficial effects of THC seemed to wane off more swiftly in the presence of CBD, due to these metabolic effects. The findings indicate that THC-treatment alone is more efficient to improve spatial learning in aged mice than the 1:1 combination of THC and CBD.
... In addition, Nidadavolu and colleagues [63] reported another interesting age-dependent response; while in young mice the co-administration of a combination of THC and CBD seems to be able to prevent some of the detrimental THC effect on cognition, in aged mice, this combination did not restore the memory impairment caused by physiological aging, suggesting that THC alone is more efficacious in the recovery effect. The inability of a CBD/THC mixture to reduce the cognitive impairment present in old mice (the wildtype controls) was also observed by Aso et al. [65] when investigating the CBD/THC effect in a transgenic mouse model of AD. In this context, however, chronic administration of a combination of THC and CBD resulted effective in improving cognitive performance disrupted by the presence of β-amyloid, even when administered at advanced stages of the disease [65]. ...
... The inability of a CBD/THC mixture to reduce the cognitive impairment present in old mice (the wildtype controls) was also observed by Aso et al. [65] when investigating the CBD/THC effect in a transgenic mouse model of AD. In this context, however, chronic administration of a combination of THC and CBD resulted effective in improving cognitive performance disrupted by the presence of β-amyloid, even when administered at advanced stages of the disease [65]. The cognitive improvement was paralleled by changes in markers of synaptic function relevant for the recovery of the imbalance in excitatory vs. inhibitory neural activity observed in the cortex of aged transgenic mice. ...
Article
Full-text available
Cannabis is still the most widely used illicit drug around the world. While its use has always been prevalent among adolescents, recent evidence suggests that its consumption is also increasing among other population groups, such as pregnant women and aged people. Given the known impact of cannabis on brain development and behavior, it is important to dissect the possible long-term impact of its use across different age groups, especially on measures of cognitive performance. Animal models of cannabinoid exposure have represented a fundamental tool to characterize the long-lasting consequences of cannabinoids on cognitive performance and helped to identify possible factors that could modulate cannabinoids effects in the long term, such as the age of exposure and doses administered. This scoping review was systematically conducted using PubMed and includes papers published from 2015 to December 2021 that examined the effects of cannabinoids, either natural or synthetic, on cognitive performance in animal models where exposure occurred in the prenatal period, during adolescence, or in older animals. Overall, available data clearly point to a crucial role of age in determining the long-term effect of cannabinoid on cognition, highlighting possible detrimental consequences during brain development (prenatal and adolescent exposure) and beneficial outcomes in old age. In contrast, despite the recent advances in the field, it appears difficult to clearly establish a possible role of dosage in the effects of cannabinoids on cognition, especially when the adolescent period is taken into account.
... Even though animals treated with either isolated phytocannabinoids or their combination showed improvement in tests designed to assess memory and learning, such as the novel object recognition and active avoidance, only animals that received THC + CBD had a decrease in soluble Aβ42 levels and gliosis in cerebral cortex (Aso et al., 2015). On the other hand, when the same experimental design was performed with 12-months old mice, the positive results observed regarding Aβ42 levels and gliosis were lost, suggesting that the mechanisms of action mediated by these phytocannabinoids might be more effective at initial stages of AD (Aso et al., 2016; Figure 2). ...
Article
Full-text available
Historically, Cannabis is one of the first plants to be domesticated and used in medicine, though only in the last years the amount of Cannabis-based products or medicines has increased worldwide. Previous preclinical studies and few published clinical trials have demonstrated the efficacy and safety of Cannabis-based medicines in humans. Indeed, Cannabis-related medicines are used to treat multiple pathological conditions, including neurodegenerative disorders. In clinical practice, Cannabis products have already been introduced to treatment regimens of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis’s patients, and the mechanisms of action behind the reported improvement in the clinical outcome and disease progression are associated with their anti-inflammatory, immunosuppressive, antioxidant, and neuroprotective properties, due to the modulation of the endocannabinoid system. In this review, we describe the role played by the endocannabinoid system in the physiopathology of Alzheimer, Parkinson, and Multiple Sclerosis, mainly at the neuroimmunological level. We also discuss the evidence for the correlation between phytocannabinoids and their therapeutic effects in these disorders, thus describing the main clinical studies carried out so far on the therapeutic performance of Cannabis-based medicines.
... Aso et al. [31] Os extratos botânicos enriquecidos com THC e enriquecidos com CBD mostraram: -Redução do comprometimento da memória em estágios avançados da doença; -Diminuição dos níveis de expressão de subunidades do receptor de glutamato (GluR2/3) e aumento da expressão da subunidade α1 do receptor A do ácido γaminobutírico (GABA-A Rα1), neutralizando a excitabilidade neural e consequentemente, melhorando o desempenho cognitivo, hipótese que ainda precisa ser melhor estudada; A combinação dos compostos: -Não modificou o processamento de proteínas β-amiloide, nem a redução da reatividade glial associada à deposição de proteínas β-amiloide aberrante; -Pode induzir alterações nos marcadores da função sináptica, normalizando os níveis de proteína sinaptossomal associada de 25 kDa (SNAP-25) pré-sináptica, mas não a proteína de densidade pós-sináptica 95 (PSD-95). ...
Article
Full-text available
Considerando os efeitos terapêuticos limitados das medicações atuais para a tentativa de tratamento ou diminuição dos sintomas da doença de Alzheimer, torna-se relevante a busca por novas alternativas terapêuticas, com eficácia significativa e efeitos colaterais diminuídos. Uma das soluções promissoras para impedir a progressão das alterações comportamentais e cognitivas da doença são os derivados canabinoides, nos quais estudos in vivo têm mostrado uma redução no estresse oxidativo, neuroinflamação, formação de placas amiloides e emaranhados neurofibrilares, além de estar relacionado com a regulação da ativação das células da microglia e liberação de macromoléculas, todos os fatores que quando presentes, contribuem para a piora e evolução da doença. A Cannabis medicinal e os derivados canabinoides como o canabidiol e o Δ9-tetraidrocanabinol têm mostrado eficácia terapêutica bastante significativa para variadas doenças e sintomas, como dor crônica, náusea e vômito induzidos pela quimioterapia, esclerose múltipla, anorexia nervosa, ansiedade, doença de Huntington, doença de Parkinson, epilepsia, doença de Alzheimer, entre outros. Sendo assim, esse trabalho teve como objetivo reunir estudos que possibilitassem a análise da eficácia/efetividade dos derivados canabinoides na doença de Alzheimer em publicações mais atualizadas.
Article
Full-text available
Studies on the effective and safe therapeutic dosage of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) have been sparse due to the concern about THC’s psychotropic activity. The present study focused on demonstrating the beneficial effect of low-dose THC treatment in preclinical AD models. The effect of THC on amyloid-β (Aβ) production was examined in N2a/AβPPswe cells. An in vivo study was conducted in aged APP/PS1 transgenic mice that received an intraperitoneal injection of THC at 0.02 and 0.2 mg/kg every other day for three months. The in vitro study showed that THC inhibited Aβ aggregation within a safe dose range. Results of the radial arm water maze (RAWM) test demonstrated that treatment with 0.02 and 0.2 mg/kg of THC for three months significantly improved the spatial learning performance of aged APP/PS1 mice in a dose-dependent manner. Results of protein analyses revealed that low-dose THC treatment significantly decreased the expression of Aβ oligomers, phospho-tau and total tau, and increased the expression of Aβ monomers and phospho-GSK-3β (Ser9) in the THC-treated brain tissues. In conclusion, treatment with THC at 0.2 and 0.02 mg/kg improved the spatial learning of aged APP/PS1 mice, suggesting low-dose THC is a safe and effective treatment for AD.
Chapter
Dementia is a group of diseases characterized by gradual impairment of brain function. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and is characterized by many neuropsychiatric symptoms, of which loss of memory is only one and possibly not the most problematic. The pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s disease involves a triad of neuroinflammation, formation of amyloid plaques, and hyperphosphorylation of tau protein. The endocannabinoid system is involved in the pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s disease and, because of this, may be an important therapeutic target in the future. Preclinical and clinical research indicates that cannabidiol, tetrahydrocannabinol, and some of terpenes found in cannabis may be useful in the treatment of the neurobehavioural aspects of the condition. Medicinal cannabis may be a valuable part of a holistic approach to the treatment of AD that considers a range of factors including diet, exercise, stress reduction, and others. This chapter explores the evidence that key phytocannabinoids such as cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol and some of the other phytonutrients of Cannabis sativa may have a role to play in the treatment of this disease that, as yet, has no cure.
Article
Full-text available
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common form of progressive neurodegenerative disease characterized by cognitive impairment and mental disorders. The actual cause and cascade of events in the progression of this pathology is not fully determined. AD is multifaceted in nature and is linked to different multiple mechanisms in the brain. This aspect is related to the lack of efficacious therapies that could slow down or hinder the disease onset/progression. The ideal treatment for AD should be able to modulate the disease through multiple mechanisms rather than targeting a single dysregulated pathway. Recently, the endocannabinoid system emerged as novel potential therapeutic target to treat AD. In fact, exogenous and endogenous cannabinoids seem to be able to modulate multiple processes in AD, although the mechanisms that are involved are not fully elucidated. This review provides an update of this area. In this review, we recapitulate the role of endocannabinoid signaling in AD and the probable mechanisms through which modulators of the endocannabinoid system provide their effects, thus highlighting how this target might provide more advantages over other therapeutic targets.
Article
Full-text available
Several recent findings suggest that targeting the endogenous cannabinoid system can be considered as a potential therapeutic approach to treat Alzheimer's disease (AD). The present study supports this hypothesis demonstrating that delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or cannabidiol (CBD) botanical extracts, as well as the combination of both natural cannabinoids, which are the components of an already approved cannabis-based medicine, preserved memory in AβPP/PS1 transgenic mice when chronically administered during the early symptomatic stage. Moreover, THC + CBD reduced learning impairment in AβPP/PS1 mice. A significant decrease in soluble Aβ42 peptide levels and a change in plaques composition were also observed in THC + CBD-treated AβPP/PS1 mice, suggesting a cannabinoid-induced reduction in the harmful effect of the most toxic form of the Aβ peptide. Among the mechanisms related with these positive cognitive effects, the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabinoids may also play a relevant role. Here we observed reduced astrogliosis, microgliosis, and inflammatory-related molecules in treated AβPP/PS1 mice, which were more marked after treatment with THC + CBD than with either THC or CBD. Moreover, other cannabinoid-induced effects were uncovered by a genome-wide gene expression study. Thus, we have identified the redox protein thioredoxin 2 and the signaling protein Wnt16 as significant substrates for the THC + CBD-induced effects in our AD model. In summary, the present findings show that the combination of THC and CBD exhibits a better therapeutic profile than each cannabis component alone and support the consideration of a cannabis-based medicine as potential therapy against AD.
Article
Full-text available
Impairments in cognitive ability and widespread pathophysiological changes caused by neurotoxicity, neuroinflammation, oxidative damage, and altered cholesterol homeostasis are associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD). Cannabidiol (CBD) has been shown to reverse cognitive deficits of AD transgenic mice and to exert neuroprotective, anti-oxidative, and anti-inflammatory properties in vitro and in vivo. Here we evaluate the preventative properties of long-term CBD treatment in male AβPPSwe/PS1ΔE9 (AβPP × PS1) mice, a transgenic model of AD. Control and AD transgenic mice were treated orally from 2.5 months of age with CBD (20 mg/kg) daily for 8 months. Mice were then assessed in the social preference test, elevated plus maze, and fear conditioning paradigms, before cortical and hippocampal tissues were analyzed for amyloid load, oxidative damage, cholesterol, phytosterols, and inflammation. We found that AβPP × PS1 mice developed a social recognition deficit, which was prevented by CBD treatment. CBD had no impact on anxiety or associative learning. The prevention of the social recognition deficit was not associated with any changes in amyloid load or oxidative damage. However, the study revealed a subtle impact of CBD on neuroinflammation, cholesterol, and dietary phytosterol retention, which deserves further investigation. This study is the first to demonstrate CBD's ability to prevent the development of a social recognition deficit in AD transgenic mice. Our findings provide the first evidence that CBD may have potential as a preventative treatment for AD with a particular relevance for symptoms of social withdrawal and facial recognition.
Article
Full-text available
The limited effectiveness of current therapies against Alzheimer's disease (AD) highlights the need for intensifying research efforts devoted to developing new agents for preventing or retarding the disease process. During the last few years, targeting the endogenous cannabinoid system has emerged as a potential therapeutic approach to treat Alzheimer. The endocannabinoid system is composed by a number of cannabinoid receptors, including the well-characterized CB1 and CB2 receptors, with their endogenous ligands and the enzymes related to the synthesis and degradation of these endocannabinoid compounds. Several findings indicate that the activation of both CB1 and CB2 receptors by natural or synthetic agonists, at non-psychoactive doses, have beneficial effects in Alzheimer experimental models by reducing the harmful β-amyloid peptide action and tau phosphorylation, as well as by promoting the brain's intrinsic repair mechanisms. Moreover, endocannabinoid signaling has been demonstrated to modulate numerous concomitant pathological processes, including neuroinflammation, excitotoxicity, mitochondrial dysfunction, and oxidative stress. The present paper summarizes the main experimental studies demonstrating the polyvalent properties of cannabinoid compounds for the treatment of AD, which together encourage progress toward a clinical trial.
Article
Full-text available
Patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease (AD) exhibit a decline in cognitive abilities including an inability to recognise familiar faces. Hallmark pathological changes in AD include the aggregation of amyloid-β (Aβ), tau protein hyperphosphorylation as well as pronounced neurodegeneration, neuroinflammation, neurotoxicity and oxidative damage. The non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) exerts neuroprotective, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and promotes neurogenesis. CBD also reverses Aβ-induced spatial memory deficits in rodents. Thus we determined the therapeutic-like effects of chronic CBD treatment (20 mg/kg, daily intraperitoneal injections for 3 weeks) on the APPswe/PS1∆E9 (APPxPS1) transgenic mouse model for AD in a number of cognitive tests, including the social preference test, the novel object recognition task and the fear conditioning paradigm. We also analysed the impact of CBD on anxiety behaviours in the elevated plus maze. Vehicle-treated APPxPS1 mice demonstrated impairments in social recognition and novel object recognition compared to wild type-like mice. Chronic CBD treatment reversed these cognitive deficits in APPxPS1 mice without affecting anxiety-related behaviours. This is the first study to investigate the effect of chronic CBD treatment on cognition in an AD transgenic mouse model. Our findings suggest that CBD may have therapeutic potential for specific cognitive impairments associated with AD.
Article
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a widespread neuromodulatory system that plays important roles in central nervous system development, synaptic plasticity, and the response to endogenous and environmental insults. The ECS comprises cannabinoid receptors, endogenous cannabinoids (endocannabinoids), and the enzymes responsible for the synthesis and degradation of the endocannabinoids. The most abundant cannabinoid receptors are the CB1 cannabinoid receptors; however, CB2 cannabinoid receptors, transient receptor potential channels, and peroxisome proliferator activated receptors are also engaged by some cannabinoids. Exogenous cannabinoids, such as tetrahydrocannabinol, produce their biological effects through their interactions with cannabinoid receptors. The best-studied endogenous cannabinoids are 2-arachidonoyl glycerol and arachidonoyl ethanolamide (anandamide). Despite similarities in chemical structure, 2-arachidonoyl glycerol and anandamide are synthesized and degraded by distinct enzymatic pathways, which impart fundamentally different physiologic and pathophysiologic roles to these two endocannabinoids. As a result of the pervasive social use of cannabis and the involvement of endocannabinoids in a multitude of biological processes, much has been learned about the physiologic and pathophysiologic roles of the ECS. This review provides an introduction to the ECS with an emphasis on its role in synaptic plasticity and how the ECS is perturbed in schizophrenia.
Article
It has been widely reported that β-amyloid peptide (Aβ) blocks long-term potentiation (LTP) of hippocampal synapses. Here, we show evidence that Aβ more potently blocks the potentiation of excitatory postsynaptic potential (EPSP)-spike coupling (E-S potentiation). This occurs, not by direct effect on excitatory synapses or postsynaptic neurons, but rather through an indirect mechanism: reduction of endocannabinoid-mediated peritetanic disinhibition. During high-frequency (tetanic) stimulation, somatic synaptic inhibition is suppressed by endocannabinoids. We find that Aβ prevents this endocannabinoid-mediated disinhibition, thus leaving synaptic inhibition more intact during tetanic stimulation. This intact inhibition opposes the normal depolarization of hippocampal pyramidal neurons that occurs during tetanus, thus opposing the induction of synaptic plasticity. Thus, a pathway through which Aβ can act to modulate neural activity is identified, relevant to learning and memory and how it may mediate aspects of the cognitive decline seen in Alzheimer's disease.
Article
The effects of amyloid-β on the activity and excitability of individual neurons in the early and advanced stages of the pathological progression of Alzheimer's disease remain unknown. We used in vivo intracellular recordings to measure the ongoing and evoked activity of pyramidal neurons in the frontal cortex of APPswe/PS1dE9 transgenic mice and age-matched nontransgenic littermate controls. Evoked excitability was altered in both transgenic groups: neurons in young transgenic mice displayed hypoexcitability, whereas those in older transgenic mice displayed hyperexcitability, suggesting changes in intrinsic electrical properties of the neurons. However, the ongoing activity of neurons in both young and old transgenic groups showed signs of hyperexcitability in the depolarized state of the membrane potential. The membrane potential of neurons in old transgenic mice had an increased tendency to fail to transition to the depolarized state, and the depolarized states had shorter durations on average than did controls. This suggests a combination of both intrinsic electrical and synaptic dysfunctions as mechanisms for activity changes at later stages of the neuropathological progression.
Article
Marijuana has been used for thousands of years as a treatment for medical conditions. However, untoward side effects limit its medical value. Here, we show that synaptic and cognitive impairments following repeated exposure to Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ(9)-THC) are associated with the induction of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), an inducible enzyme that converts arachidonic acid to prostanoids in the brain. COX-2 induction by Δ(9)-THC is mediated via CB1 receptor-coupled G protein βγ subunits. Pharmacological or genetic inhibition of COX-2 blocks downregulation and internalization of glutamate receptor subunits and alterations of the dendritic spine density of hippocampal neurons induced by repeated Δ(9)-THC exposures. Ablation of COX-2 also eliminates Δ(9)-THC-impaired hippocampal long-term synaptic plasticity, working, and fear memories. Importantly, the beneficial effects of decreasing β-amyloid plaques and neurodegeneration by Δ(9)-THC in Alzheimer's disease animals are retained in the presence of COX-2 inhibition. These results suggest that the applicability of medical marijuana would be broadened by concurrent inhibition of COX-2.