Augusta, GA—A two-week course of high-dose cannabidiol (CBD) helped restore the function of two proteins key to reducing accumulation of beta-amyloid plaque, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a press release. Researchers at the Medical College of Georgia (MCG) at Augusta University used an experimental mouse model of early onset familial Alzheimer’s, wherein they also found that CBD improved cognition.
The proteins in question: TREM 2 and IL-33. Both are vital to the ability of the brain’s immune cells to consume dead cells and other debris, such as the beta-amyloid plaque that piles up in patients’ brains. Those suffering from Alzheimer’s have decreased levels of both proteins.
In the experimental model, CBD normalized levels and function of the two proteins, while decreasing levels of IL-6, an inflammatory protein associated with the high levels of inflammation found in Alzheimer’s.
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The press release quotes MCG neurologist Dr. John Morgan, who explains that there are currently two classes of drugs that treat Alzheimer’s: One that increases levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is also decreased in Alzheimer’s, and another that works through receptors involved in communication between neurons important to memory. However, Dr. Morgan points out, “we have nothing that gets to the pathophysiology of the disease.”
The impact of CBD on brain function in the mouse model of early onset Alzheimer’s was assessed by checking the ability to differentiate between a familiar item and a new one. Researchers also observed the way the mice moved: People with Alzheimer’s can experience movement problems such as stiffness and an impaired gait, and mice with the disease run in an “endless tight circle,” the press release states, behavior which stopped with treatment.
Dr. Hesam Khodadadi, a graduate student and the study’s first author, says that the next steps include determining optimal doses and giving CBD earlier in the disease process. Dr. Kohdadadi says that the research team is also exploring different delivery systems, such as an inhaler that could help deliver the CBD more directly to the brain.