Cannabidiol and Autism

Studies and peer-reviewed research into the effects of CBD and Autism

Autism

 

 

Cannabinoid receptor type 2, but not type 1, is up-regulated in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of children affected by autistic disorders

 

From the abstract:

 

Autistic disorders (ADs) are heterogeneous neurodevelopmental disorders arised by the interaction of genes and environmental factors. Dysfunctions in social interaction and communication skills, repetitive and stereotypic verbal and non-verbal behaviours are common features of ADs. There are no defined mechanisms of pathogenesis, rendering curative therapy very difficult. Indeed, the treatments for autism presently available can be divided into behavioural, nutritional and medical approaches, although no defined standard approach exists. Autistic children display immune system dysregulation and show an altered immune response of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). In this study, we investigated the involvement of cannabinoid system in PBMCs from autistic children compared to age-matched normal healthy developing controls (age ranging 3-9 years; mean age: 6.06 ± 1.52 vs. 6.14 ± 1.39 in autistic children and healthy subjects, respectively). The mRNA level for cannabinoid receptor type 2 (CB2) was significantly increased in AD-PBMCs as compared to healthy subjects (mean ± SE of arbitrary units: 0.34 ± 0.03 vs. 0.23 ± 0.02 in autistic children and healthy subjects, respectively), whereas CB1 and fatty acid amide hydrolase mRNA levels were unchanged. mRNA levels of N-acylphosphatidylethanolamine-hydrolyzing phospholipase D gene were slightly decreased. Protein levels of CB-2 were also significantly increased in autistic children (mean ± SE of arbitrary units: 33.5 ± 1.32 vs. 6.70 ± 1.25 in autistic children and healthy subjects, respectively). Our data indicate CB2 receptor as potential therapeutic target for the pharmacological management of the autism care.

 

Consequences of cannabinoid and monoaminergic system disruption in a mouse model of autism spectrum disorders 

 

From the abstract:

 

Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are heterogenous neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by impairment in social, communication skills and stereotype behaviors. While autism may be uniquely human, there are behavioral characteristics in ASDs that can be mimicked using animal models. We used the BTBR T+tf/J mice that have been shown to exhibit autism-like behavioral phenotypes to 1). Evaluate cannabinoid-induced behavioral changes using forced swim test (FST) and spontaneous wheel running (SWR) activity and 2). Determine the behavioral and neurochemical changes after the administration of MDMA (20 mg/kg), methamphetamine (10 mg/kg) or MPTP (20 mg/kg). We found that the BTBR mice exhibited an enhanced basal spontaneous locomotor behavior in the SWR test and a reduced depressogenic profile. These responses appeared to be enhanced by the prototypic cannabinoid, Δ(9)-THC. MDMA and MPTP at the doses used did not modify SWR behavior in the BTBR mice whereas MPTP reduced SWR activity in the control CB57BL/6J mice. In the hippocampus, striatum and frontal cortex, the levels of DA and 5-HT and their metabolites were differentially altered in the BTBR and C57BL/6J mice. Our data provides a basis for further studies in evaluating the role of the cannabinoid and monoaminergic systems in the etiology of ASDs.

 

Targeting the endocannabinoid system in the treatment of fragile X syndrome

 

From the abstract:

 

Fragile X syndrome (FXS), the most common monogenic cause of inherited intellectual disability and autism, is caused by the silencing of the FMR1 gene, leading to the loss of fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP), a synaptically expressed RNA-binding protein regulating translation. The Fmr1 knockout model recapitulates the main traits of the disease. Uncontrolled activity of metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 (mGluR5) and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling seem crucial in the pathology of this disease. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a key modulator of synaptic plasticity, cognitive performance, anxiety, nociception and seizure susceptibility, all of which are affected in FXS. The cannabinoid receptors CB1 (CB1R) and CB2 (CB2R) are activated by phospholipid-derived endocannabinoids, and CB1R-driven long-term regulation of synaptic strength, as a consequence of mGluR5 activation, is altered in several brain areas of Fmr1 knockout mice. We found that CB1R blockade in male Fmr1 knockout (Fmr1(-/y)) mice through pharmacological and genetic approaches normalized cognitive impairment, nociceptive desensitization, susceptibility to audiogenic seizures, overactivated mTOR signaling and altered spine morphology, whereas pharmacological blockade of CB2R normalized anxiolytic-like behavior. Some of these traits were also reversed by pharmacological inhibition of mTOR or mGluR5. Thus, blockade of ECS is a potential therapeutic approach to normalize specific alterations in FXS.

 

Deficient adolescent social behavior following early-life inflammation is ameliorated by augmentation of anandamide signaling

 

From the abstract:

 

Early-life inflammation has been shown to exert profound effects on brain development and behavior, including altered emotional behavior, stress responsivity and neurochemical/neuropeptide receptor expression and function. The current study extends this research by examining the impact of inflammation, triggered with the bacterial compound lipopolysaccharide (LPS) on postnatal day (P) 14, on social behavior during adolescence. We investigated the role that the endocannabinoid (eCB) system plays in sociability after early-life LPS. To test this, multiple cohorts of Sprague Dawley rats were injected with LPS on P14. In adolescence, rats were subjected to behavioral testing in a reciprocal social interaction paradigm as well as the open field. We quantified eCB levels in the amygdala of P14 and adolescent animals (anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol) as well as adolescent amygdaloid cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) binding site density and the hydrolytic activity of the enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), which metabolizes the eCB anandamide. Additionally, we examined the impact of FAAH inhibition on alterations in social behavior. Our results indicate that P14 LPS decreases adolescent social behavior (play and social non-play) in males and females at P40. This behavioral alteration is accompanied by decreased CB1 binding, increased anandamide levels and increased FAAH activity. Oral administration of the FAAH inhibitor PF-04457845 (1mg/kg) prior to the social interaction task normalizes LPS-induced alterations in social behavior, while not affecting social behavior in the control group. Infusion of 10ng PF-04457845 into the basolateral amygdala normalized social behavior in LPS injected females. These data suggest that alterations in eCB signaling following postnatal inflammation contribute to impairments in social behavior during adolescence and that inhibition of FAAH could be a novel target for disorders involving social deficits such as social anxiety disorders or autism.

 

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