Findings in a recent study indicate that CBD effectively inhibits the expression of amyloid beta, a toxic protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Pretreating cells with the natural compound cannabidiol (CBD) effectively inhibits the expression of proteins responsible for the development of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a recent study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.
A team of Italian researchers, headed up by neuroscience specialist Rosaliana Libro, used mesenchymal stem cells derived from gingiva (GMSCs) to investigate CBD’s effects on the mechanisms that lead to neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease. They discovered that pretreating the stem cells with CBD caused a downregulation of genes linked to Alzheimer’s, including the genes coding that is responsible for the production of amyloid plaques and tangles.
Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by the buildup of beta-amyloid peptides, which clump together to form plaques, and twisted fibers of the protein tau create tangles. These sticky clumps and tangles block the transport of nutrients and cell-to-cell signaling at synapses, eventually leading to the death of brain cells. Symptoms typically begin with mild confusion or forgetfulness, and progress over time until memory loss worsens and the ability to carry out daily tasks is impaired. The disease affects more than five million Americans, according to Alzheimer’s Association, and is a leading cause of death. As of now, there is no recognized cure for the disease.
Libro and her team found that pretreating cells with CBD effectively modified the panel of genes that are correlated to the cause of Alzheimer’s disease. By interacting with the vanilloid receptor 1 (TRPVI), CBD downregulated a collection of genes – Glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK3β), cyclin-dependent protein kinase-5 (CDK5), Dual specificity tyrosine-phosphorylation-regulated kinase 1A (DYRK1A), Calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CAMK2A), and the Mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) – that are related to the production of tau. CBD pretreatments also modified the genes involved in the production of beta-amyloid.
“In conclusion, this preliminary in vitro study has demonstrated that GMSCs preconditioned with CBD have better therapeutic potential compared to [control] GMSCs cells, and we believe that their transplantation in the early stage of [Alzheimer’s disease] may play a role in preventing or attenuating the disease onset,” Libro concludes in the study.
The findings are encouraging, considering that to date there are no effective therapies to counteract the formation of tau or beta-amyloid. CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found throughout the seeds, stalk and flowers of cannabis plants.
Cannabinoids have indicated efficacy for Alzheimer’s disease in previous studies. CBD has shown to improve the survival rate of cells through neuroprotective, anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, and anti-apopotic effects, and to encourage the regeneration of brain cells. The psychoactive cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), has demonstrated to be effective at lowering amyloid-beta levels and enhancing mitochondrial function.
You can access Libro’s entire study, “Cannabidiol Modulates the Expression of Alzheimer’s Disease-Related Genes in Mesenchymal Stem Cells,” via International Journal of Molecular Sciences.
Learn more about the research on cannabinoids and Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases by visiting our education page. Keep up with the latest cannabis-related studies by regularly checking our news feed.