Liver Disease Marijuana Research

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Cannabidiol causes activated hepatic stellate cell death through a mechanism of endoplasmic reticulum stress-induced apoptosis.

 

Author information

1
Department of Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY 10029, USA.

Abstract

The major cellular event in the development and progression of liver fibrosis is the activation of hepatic stellate cells (HSCs). Activated HSCs proliferate and produce excess collagen, leading to accumulation of scar matrix and fibrotic liver. As such, the induction of activated HSC death has been proposed as a means to achieve resolution of liver fibrosis. Here we demonstrate that cannabidiol (CBD), a major non-psychoactive component of the plant Cannabis sativa, induces apoptosis in activated HSCs through a cannabinoid receptor-independent mechanism. CBD elicits an endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress response, characterized by changes in ER morphology and the initiation of RNA-dependent protein kinase-like ER kinase-, activating transcription factor-6-, and inositol-requiring ER-to-nucleus signal kinase-1 (IRE1)-mediated signaling cascades. Furthermore, CBD induces downstream activation of the pro-apoptotic IRE1/ASK1/c-Jun N-terminal kinase pathway, leading to HSC death. Importantly, we show that this mechanism of CBD-induced ER stress-mediated apoptosis is specific to activated HSCs, as it occurs in activated human and rat HSC lines, and in primary in vivo-activated mouse HSCs, but not in quiescent HSCs or primary hepatocytes from rat. Finally, we provide evidence that the elevated basal level of ER stress in activated HSCs has a role in their susceptibility to the pro-apoptotic effect of CBD. We propose that CBD, by selectively inducing death of activated HSCs, represents a potential therapeutic agent for the treatment of liver fibrosis.

Cannabidiol improves brain and liver function in a fulminant hepatic failure-induced model of hepatic encephalopathy in mice.

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Author information

1
Department of Human Nutrition and Metabolism, Braun School of Public Health, Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical School, Jerusalem, Israel. yosefa@md.huji.ac.il

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:

Hepatic encephalopathy is a neuropsychiatric disorder of complex pathogenesis caused by acute or chronic liver failure. We investigated the effects of cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive constituent of Cannabis sativa with anti-inflammatory properties that activates the 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor 5-HT(1A) , on brain and liver functions in a model of hepatic encephalopathy associated with fulminant hepatic failure induced in mice by thioacetamide.

EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH:

Female Sabra mice were injected with either saline or thioacetamide and were treated with either vehicle or cannabidiol. Neurological and motor functions were evaluated 2 and 3 days, respectively, after induction of hepatic failure, after which brains and livers were removed for histopathological analysis and blood was drawn for analysis of plasma liver enzymes. In a separate group of animals, cognitive function was tested after 8 days and brain 5-HT levels were measured 12 days after induction of hepatic failure.

KEY RESULTS:

Neurological and cognitive functions were severely impaired in thioacetamide-treated mice and were restored by cannabidiol. Similarly, decreased motor activity in thioacetamide-treated mice was partially restored by cannabidiol. Increased plasma levels of ammonia, bilirubin and liver enzymes, as well as enhanced 5-HT levels in thioacetamide-treated mice were normalized following cannabidiol administration. Likewise, astrogliosis in the brains of thioacetamide-treated mice was moderated after cannabidiol treatment.

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS:

Cannabidiol restores liver function, normalizes 5-HT levels and improves brain pathology in accordance with normalization of brain function. Therefore, the effects of cannabidiol may result from a combination of its actions in the liver and brain.

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