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Potential and Limits of Cannabinoids in Alzheimer’s Disease Therapy

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a detrimental brain disorder characterized by a gradual cognitive decline and neuronal deterioration. To date, the treatments available are effective only in the early stage of the disease. The AD etiology has not been completely revealed, and investigating new pathological mechanisms is essential for developing effective and safe drugs. The recreational and pharmacological properties of marijuana are known for centuries, but only recently the scientific community started to investigate the potential use of cannabinoids in AD therapy—sometimes with contradictory outcomes. Since the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is highly expressed in the hippocampus and cortex, cannabis use/abuse has often been associated with memory and learning dysfunction in vulnerable individuals. However, the latest findings in AD rodent models have shown promising effects of cannabinoids in reducing amyloid plaque deposition and stimulating hippocampal neurogenesis. Beneficial effects on several dementia-related symptoms have also been reported in clinical trials after cannabinoid treatments. Accordingly, future studies should address identifying the correct therapeutic dosage and timing of treatment from the perspective of using cannabinoids in AD therapy. The present paper aims to summarize the potential and limitations of cannabinoids as therapeutics for AD, focusing on recent pre-clinical and clinical evidence.

Abate G, Uberti D, Tambaro S.

Biology

Journal:

June 17, 2021

Published