The current treatments for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are effective only in the early stage for the disease. Developing new effective and safe drugs is essential through investigating new pathological mechanisms.
A recent review by a team of researchers from the University of Brescia in Italy explored the potential of targeting the endocannabinoid system as a therapeutic option for AD. The latest findings in AD rodent models have shown promising effects of THC in reducing amyloid plaque deposition in the brain and stimulating hippocampal neurogenesis, which is important for learning and memory. In addition, CBD showed neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic, and anti-insomnia properties that could help treat Alzheimer’s disease symptoms.
To date, although only a few clinical trials evaluated the use of THC (nabilone and dronabinol, synthetic THC) or CBD to treat or manage AD, beneficial effects on several dementia-related symptoms have been reported. For example, nabilone was found effective in reducing symptoms of agitation and aggression among AD patients. Dronabinol demonstrated positive effects on body weight and mitigated disturbing behaviour in patients with AD. CBD is considered as one of the most prominent candidates with relevant high safety and anti-AD properties to be further tested in clinical trials. Further studies are needed to explore the long-term effects of cannabinoids in treating AD and cannabinoid drug-drug interactions.
- Abate, G., Uberti, D. & Tambaro, S. Potential and Limits of Cannabinoids in Alzheimer’s Disease Therapy. Biology (Basel) 10, 542 (2021).