A study published this month in the journal Neuropharmacology, and published online by the U.S. National Institute of Health, has found that prolonged administration of a compound meant to mimic the effects of cannabis can improve motor symptoms and stimulate neuroprotective processes in those with Huntington’s disease.
“Huntington’s disease (HD) is a devastating neurodegenerative disease characterized by a progressive decline in motor abilities, as well as in cognitive and social behaviors”, claims the study. “Most of these behavioral deficits are recapitulated in the R6/1 transgenic mouse, which can therefore be used as an experimental model to identify the neurobiological substrates of HD pathology and to design novel therapeutic approaches.”
According to researchers; “The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a relevant candidate to participate in the etiopathology of HD as it is a key modulator of brain function, especially in areas primarily affected by HD dysfunction such as the striatum. Thus, some studies have demonstrated an association between HD progression and alterations in the expression of several ECS [endocannabinoid system] elements, thereby suggesting that improving ECS function may constitute a useful strategy to eliminate or at least delay the appearance of HD symptoms.”
In conducting the study, researchers used a cannabinoid receptor agonist (WIN 55,212) – something that cannabis naturally is – to test whether it would improve HD-like symptoms in mice.
“While acute treatment did not change the behavioral phenotype of transgenic animals, chronic administration was able to prevent the appearance of motor deficits, to increase the number of striatal huntingtin inclusions and to prevent the loss of striatal medium-sized spiny neurons, without affecting the social or cognitive alterations”, claims the study.
Researchers conclude; “These findings suggest that prolonged administration of cannabinoid receptor agonists could be an appropriate strategy for selectively improving motor symptoms and stimulating neuroprotective processes in HD patients.”
The full study can be found by clicking here.