Huntington's disease and endocannabinoid activity

New evidence on the benefit of cannabis in Huntington's disease

Science has shown that cannabis helps slow the progression of neurodegenerative disease through its interaction with the endocannabinoid system. Research in 2015 showed that the CBG exhibits neuroprotective effects and is strongly active in repairing protective brain cells. Today, a new study comprehensively assesses the effects of marijuana on symptoms related to movement disorders with a focus on Huntington's disease (HD). The researchers tried to find out if the increase in endocannabinoid activity could be therapeutically beneficial for the treatment of this disease.

Huntington's disease

Huntington's disease is a rare genetic disorder that causes progressive breakdown (degeneration) of certain nerve cells in the brain. It has a large impact on a person's functional abilities and usually causes various disorders of movement, thinking (cognitive) and psychiatric.

Symptoms of HD can develop at any time, but they often first appear when people are in their 20s or XNUMXs. When the condition develops at an age prior to XNUMX years, it is called juvenile Huntington's disease.

Huntington's disease is a neurological disorder caused by an inherited genetic mutation. Although the disease progresses slowly, patients have difficulty moving, suffer from involuntary tremors, reduced cognitive functioning, and psychiatric disturbances. Huntington's disease has no known cure and few effective drug treatments. The genetic mutation that causes Huntington's disease can damage striatal and cortical neurons. For this reason, neuroprotective drugs are at the forefront of Huntington's disease research.

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Can Cannabinoids Improve Huntington's Disease?

Because the endocannabinoid system is intimately linked the progression of Huntington's disease and researchers have found that at the onset of disease progression cannabinoid receptors disappear en masse in striatal neurons, cannabis may help slow disease progression.

Scientists around the world are studying their effects on Huntington's disease. Most of the work has been done on cells grown in the lab or on animals bred to have the pathogenic gene. Some research suggests that chemicals targeting CB1 may protect cells from toxins. In the brains of Huntington mice, CB1 receptor levels have been shown to be reduced and CB2 levels are increased. Loss of CB1 receptors may be implicated in some symptoms of the disease, as Huntington's mice lacking the CB1 receptor tend to have poorer control of movement. Increasing CB2 receptors may be one of the body's ways of treating HD. This theory is supported by research showing that mice treated with chemicals targeting CB2 have less nerve cell death, possibly because it calms the immune system in the brain.

These results in cells and animals are encouraging, but humans are much more complex. Bitter experience has taught us that very often results can be inconsistent, or even completely different, when therapies are scaled up for use in humans. However, although they are generally safe and well tolerated, cannabinoids have not yet shown neuroprotective activity in humans. This gap between basic and clinical research may be due to factors such as substantial biological differences between animal models and human pathology or inadequate design of clinical trials, which have so far been geared towards evaluation of safety more than effectiveness. It therefore seems logical to suggest that future clinical trials should be conducted in early stages of HD with longer periods of treatment with cannabinoids. It could also be useful to know the pattern of cannabis use by patients with HD and to have some biomarkers related to CB activity. 1 R during the development of HD.

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Further studies have determined that Huntington's disease is linked to a loss of cannabinoid receptors in the basal ganglia.

Researchers urge doctors to consider allowing it for certain patients

The available evidence indicate that cannabis may improve neurological symptoms associated with Huntington's disease (HD), according to the findings of a review of the literature published in PubMed and EBSCO. The researchers urge doctors to consider authorizing it for certain patients suffering from this disease.

A total of 22 studies were reviewed. There was strong evidence for significant improvement in neurological symptoms of spasms, tremors, spasticity, chorea, and quality of sleep after treatment with medical marijuana. Analysis of specific motor symptoms revealed significant improvement after treatment for tremors and stiffness. In addition, all pre-treatment and post-treatment measurements indicated a significant increase in the average number of hours of sleep.

Larger-scale studies are needed to test the benefits of medical marijuana in patients with HD. Numerous preclinical studies have demonstrated the neuroprotective power of cannabinoids in different animal models of neurodegeneration. This has raised hopes of possible clinical utility, especially in very serious diseases such as HD, for which no effective treatment is known.

Overall, the safety and tolerability demonstrated so far by different cannabinoids in HD clinical trials should encourage more comprehensive future trials to assess whether these compounds could be used as therapeutic agents to treat this highly aggressive disease. .

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