THC can help regulate circadian rhythm and aging

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Cannabinoids can help keep this circadian clock to a maximum.

Environmental signals, such as light and temperature, are factors that influence the behavior of organisms. This helps them regulate feeding, the sleep and other activities depending on the time of day. Individuals use these signals to improve their survival and fitness over time. Collectively, the phenomenon is referred to as the circadian rhythm or circadian clock. It dictates some of the most basic needs of an individual. A circadian rhythm is a biological rhythm lasting approximately 24 hours, which has at least one cycle per 24 hour period. The term " circadian", Invented by Franz Halberg, comes from Latin circa," around, "and dies," day, "and literally means cycle that lasts" about a day. "

Although the observation that the behavior of animals is adapted to the time of day was made a long time ago, the biological and physiological mechanisms behind these processes have started to be studied recently. These studies revealed the existence of circadian clock genes and, more importantly, the fact that changes in clock genes occur during aging.

Circadian rhythm and aging

One of the most reported symptoms of circadian rhythm disturbances in the elderly is sleep disturbance. The quality and consistency of sleep are two of the most affected aspects of circadian biology that deteriorate with age. In addition, since sleep is an integral part of memory consolidation, sleep disorders associated with aging often occur at the same time with cognitive and / or neurodegenerative diseases. Oscillations in body temperature (i.e. higher during the day and lower at night) and the production of a human growth hormone are other physiological factors that an abnormal circadian rhythm negatively impacts .

circadian rhythm, aging, CB1 receptors, endocannabinoid system, 2AG, THC, cannabinoids

The endocannabinoid system changes with age

Many studies show that the endocannabinoid system regulates sleep, hunger, body temperature and cognitive function. Getting older will cause disruption and dysfunction of the circadian rhythm.

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Not surprisingly, the endocannabinoid system itself is modulated as we age. More recent studies, performed on humans using PET, show increases in the reactivity of sex-specific CB1 receptors in older women. The changes occur not only at the receptors, but also at the endocannabinoids. For example, 2-AG decreases with age.

Similarly, studies in aging mice have shown that CB1 deficiency caused age-related behavioral disturbances much earlier than in mice with intact CB1 genes. These results indicate that the preservation of endocannabinoid tone is important for proper cognitive function during aging.

In addition, recent data in primates indicate that the components of the endocannabinoid system are themselves subject to the regulation of the circadian rhythm. Namely, the manufacture of new CB1 receptors is under circadian modulation. This would indicate that the available abundance of cannabinoid receptors varies from day to night.

circadian rhythm, aging, CB1 receptors, endocannabinoid system, 2AG, THC, cannabinoids

Can cannabinoids treat these age-related changes?

There is ample evidence to suggest that low doses of THC (≤ 3 mg / kg in rodents) and other cannabinoids may be therapeutic for certain aspects of age-related pathophysiologies. In contrast, at high doses (≥ 3 mg / kg in rodents and ≥ 0,15 mg / kg in humans, the response to THC may be deleterious.

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Additionally, the time of day that THC is administered can dramatically affect physiological responses, which may lead us back to the finding that cannabinoid receptor expression is subjected to circadian modulation. 

The implications of these findings go far. Prescribing physicians should take into account not only the dosage, but also the age and time of taking cannabis.

Regardless, the pharmacology of cannabinoids shows promise in treating some declining aspects of age-related physiology, although we still have a lot to learn about the circadian modulation of endocannabinoid genes and the optimal window for treatments.

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Tags : Endocannabinoid system
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