Cannabidiol and Alzheimer's Disease
Studies and peer-reviewed research into the effects of CBD and Alzheimer's Disease
Cannabinoids for the Treatment of Agitation and Aggression in Alzheimer's DiseaseFrom the abstract:
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is frequently associated with neuropsychiatric symptoms (NPS) such as agitation and aggression, especially in the moderate to severe stages of the illness. The limited efficacy and high-risk profiles of current pharmacotherapies for the management of agitation and aggression in AD have driven the search for safer pharmacological alternatives. Over the past few years, there has been a growing interest in the therapeutic potential of medications that target the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The behavioural effects of ECS medications, as well as their ability to modulate neuroinflammation and oxidative stress, make targeting this system potentially relevant in AD. This article summarizes the literature to date supporting this rationale and evaluates clinical studies investigating cannabinoids for agitation and aggression in AD. Letters, case studies, and controlled trials from four electronic databases were included. While findings from six studies showed significant benefits from synthetic cannabinoids—dronabinol or nabilone—on agitation and aggression, definitive conclusions were limited by small sample sizes, short trial duration, and lack of placebo control in some of these studies. Given the relevance and findings to date, methodologically rigorous prospective clinical trials are recommended to determine the safety and efficacy of cannabinoids for the treatment of agitation and aggression in dementia and AD.
Cannabinoids for the treatment of dementiaFrom the abstract:
Following the discovery of an endogenous cannabinoid system and the identification of specific cannabinoid receptors in the central nervous system, much work has been done to investigate the main effects of these compounds. There is increasing evidence that the cannabinoid system may regulate neurodegenerative processes such as excessive glutamate production, oxidative stress and neuroinflammation. Neurodegeneration is a feature common to the various types of dementia and this has led to interest in whether cannabinoids may be clinically useful in the treatment of people with dementia. Recent studies have also shown that cannabinoids may have more specific effects in interrupting the pathological process in Alzheimer's disease.
The role of the endocannabinoid system in Alzheimer's diseaseFrom the abstract:
Unlike other neuroinflammatory disorders, like Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease and multiple sclerosis, little is still known of the role of the endocannabinoid system in Alzheimer's disease (AD). This is partly due to the poor availability of animal models that are really relevant to the human disease, and to the complexity of AD as compared to other neurological states. Nevertheless, the available data indicate that endocannabinoids are likely to play in this disorder a role similar to that suggested in other neurodegenerative diseases, that is, to represent an endogenous adaptive response aimed at counteracting both the neurochemical and inflammatory consequences of beta-amyloid-induced tau protein hyperactivity, possibly the most important underlying cause of AD. Furthermore, plant and synthetic cannabinoids, and particularly the non-psychotropic cannabidiol, might also exert other, non-cannabinoid receptor-mediated protective effects, including, but not limited to, anti-oxidant actions. There is evidence, from in vivo studies on beta-amyloid-induced neurotoxicity, also for a possible causative role of endocannabinoids in the impairment in memory retention, which is typical of AD. This might open the way to the use of cannabinoid receptor antagonists as therapeutic drugs for the treatment of cognitive deficits in the more advanced phases of this disorder. The scant, but nevertheless important literature on the regulation and role of the endocannabinoid system in AD, and on the potential treatment of this disorder with cannabinoids and endocannabinoid-based drugs, are discussed in this mini-review.
CBD regulation of emotion and emotional memory processing: relevance for treating anxiety-related and substance abuse disordersFrom the abstract:
Learning to associate cues or contexts with potential threats or rewards is adaptive and enhances survival. Both aversive and appetitive memories are therefore powerful drivers of behaviour, but the inappropriate expression of conditioned responding to fear- and drug-related stimuli can develop into anxiety-related and substance abuse disorders respectively. These disorders are associated with abnormally persistent emotional memories and inadequate treatment, often leading to symptom relapse. Studies show that cannabidiol, the main non-psychotomimetic phytocannabinoid found in Cannabis sativa, reduces anxiety via 5-HT<sub>1A</sub> and (indirect) cannabinoid receptor activation in paradigms assessing innate responses to threat. There is also accumulating evidence from animal studies investigating the effects of cannabidiol on fear memory processing indicating that it reduces learned fear in paradigms that are translationally relevant to phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder. Cannabidiol does so by reducing fear expression acutely and by disrupting fear memory reconsolidation and enhancing fear extinction, both of which can result in a lasting reduction of learned fear. Recent studies have also begun to elucidate the effects of cannabidiol on drug memory expression using paradigms with translational relevance to addiction. The findings suggest that cannabidiol reduces the expression of drug memories acutely and by disrupting their reconsolidation. Here, we review the literature demonstrating the anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol before focusing on studies investigating its effects on various fear and drug memory processes. Understanding how cannabidiol regulates emotion and emotional memory processing may eventually lead to its use as a treatment for anxiety-related and substance abuse disorders. Linked Articles This article is part of a themed section on Pharmacology of Cognition: a Panacea for Neuropsychiatric Disease? To view the other articles in this section visit http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bph.v174.19/issuetoc.
Cannabinoids for treatment of Alzheimer's disease: moving toward the clinicFrom the abstract:
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.
Neurological aspects of medical use of CBDFrom the abstract:
Pre-clinical evidence largely shows that CBD can produce beneficial effects in AD, PD and MS patients, but its employment for these disorders needs further confirmation from well designed clinical studies. CBD pre-clinical demonstration of antiepileptic activity is supported by recent clinical studies in human epileptic subjects resistant to standard antiepileptic drugs showing its potential use in children and young adults affected by refractory epilepsy. Evidence for use of CBD in PD is still not supported by sufficient data whereas only a few studies including a small number of patients are available.