Can Cannabinoids Remove Toxic Alzheimer’s Protein from Brain Cells?

Malignant Melanoma

A new study published in Aging and Mechanisms of Disease concluded they have found preliminary evidence that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other compounds in marijuana can promote the cellular removal of amyloid beta, a toxic protein associated with Alxheimer’s disease. Researchers say that although these exploratory studies were conducted in neurons grown in the lab, they may offer insight into the role of inflammation in alzheimer’s disease and provide clues for therapy.

Although it has been known that amyloid beta accumulates within the nerve cells of aging brains before Alzheimer disease symptoms and plaque that are hallmark of the disease it was unknown how the amyloid beta and the plaques it forms were involved in the disease process. Researchers found that high levels of amyloid beta were associated with cellular inflammation and higher rates of neuron death. In their research they demonstrated that exposing the cells to THC reduced amyloid beta protein levels and eliminated the inflammatory response from the nerve cells that were caused by the protein and allowed the nerve cells to survive.

Brain cells have switches known as receptors that can be activated by endocannabinoids that are mader by the body and used for intercellular signaling in the brain. The psychoactive effects of marijuana are caused by THC that is similar in activity to endocannabinoids that can activate the same receptors. Physical activity causes production of endocannabinoids and exercise has been shown in some studies to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. Researchers reemphasized that the studies were lab studies that would need to be validated with clinical trials.

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