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IACM-Bulletin of August 12, 2012


Science/Human — Oral treatment with an endocannabinoid effective against chronic pain in a clinical study

The oral intake of an endocannabinoid caused pain reduction in 610 patients, who were unable to effectively control chronic pain with standard therapies. This is the result of an observational study at the University of Rome "Tor Vergata," Italy. 600 mg of the endocannabinoid PEA (palmitoylethanolamide) was administered twice daily for 3 weeks followed by single daily dosing for 4 weeks, in addition to standard analgesic therapies or as single therapy.

PEA treatment significantly decreased the mean score pain intensity evaluated in all patients who completed the study. The PEA effect was independent of the pain associated pathological condition. PEA-induced decrease of pain intensity was present also in patients without concomitant analgesic therapy. Importantly, PEA showed no adverse effects. Authors concluded: “In this study, PEA was effective and safe in the management of chronic pain in different pathological conditions.”

Gatti A, Lazzari M, Gianfelice V, Di Paolo A, Sabato E, Sabato AF. Palmitoylethanolamide in the Treatment of Chronic Pain Caused by Different Etiopathogenesis. Pain Med. 2012 Jul 30. [in press]

News in brief

Science/Human — Higher endocannabinoid levels in the saliva of overweight people

Compared with 12 normal weight 12 overweight insulin-resistant subjects had higher endocannabinoid levels in their saliva. The salivary concentrations of anandamide (AEA) and oleoyl ethanolamide (OEA) before a meal (fasting state) directly correlated with body mass index, waist circumference and fasting insulin. Body weight loss of about 5 per cent within 12 weeks significantly decreased salivary levels of anandamide.

INSERM, Bordeaux, France.

Matias I, et al. PLoS One, 2012;7(7):e42399.

Science/Animal — CBD reduces the good feelings associated with the intake of morphine

In a study with rats CBD (cannabidiol) inhibited the reward-facilitating effect of morphine, that is the effect, which causes the good feeling associated with the intake of drugs. These effects were mediated by activation of 5-HT1A receptors in a certain brain region (dorsal raphe). Scientists concluded that “cannabidiol may be clinically useful in attenuating the rewarding effects of opioids.”

Department of Psychology, School of Social Science, University of Crete, Greece.

Katsidoni V, et al. Addict Biol. 2012 Aug 2. [in press]

Science/Animal — Endocannabinoids reduce brain damage caused by reduced blood supply during birth

The endocannabinoids 2-AG (arachidonoyl glycerol) and AEA (anandamide) reduced damage to the brain caused by reduced supply of the brain with blood and oxygen in 7-days-old rats. The endocannabinoids were administered after reducing blood and oxygen supply for 2 hours. Treated animals presented with reduced death of nerve cells.

School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of the Basque Country, Vizcaya, Spain.

Lara-Celador I, et al. Brain Res. 2012 Jul 26. [in press]

Science/Animal — Anti-inflammatory effect of CBD in acute pancreatitis

CBD (cannabidiol) and the synthetic cannabinoid O-1602, which both bind to the GPR55 receptor, reduced inflammation in acute pancreatitis of mice. They reduced the concentration of pro-inflammatory substances (interleukin-6, tumour necrosis factor alpha).

Institute of Digestive Disease, Department of Pathophysiology, Tongji University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China.

Li K, et al. Pancreas. 2012 Jul 30. [in press]

Science/Animal — Inverse agonism at the peripheral CB1 receptor reduces obesity

An inverse agonism of the peripheral CB1 receptor reduced appetite, body weight and insulin resistance in mice. This effect is mediated by restoring the normal function of leptin, a hormone secreted by fat cells that reduces appetite.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, USA.

Tam J, et al. Cell Metab. 2012 Jul 25. [in press]

Science/Human — Heavy cannabis use in adolescents influences brain function

There were activation differences in certain brain regions between 24 heavy users of cannabis and 24 non-users with a mean age of about 18 years. Researchers concluded that “lifetime marijuana use may impact the developing brain.”

The Brain Institute, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, USA.

Lopez-Larson MP, et al. Psychiatry Res. 2012 Jul 24. [in press]

Science/Human — Urine tests for THC in new-borns are not reliable

In a large sample of urine tests for THC in new-borns nearly half of the screening results (47 per cent) were not confirmed in specific tests. The corresponding percentage for adults was 0.8 per cent. This means that the urine of a new-born, which was positive for THC in a screening test, very often does not contain THC. The cause is unclear.

Department of Pathology, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, USA.

Barakauskas VE, et al. Clin Chem. 2012 Jul 24. [in press]

Science/Human — Cannabis use enhances attentional inhibition

A group of 25 regular users of cannabis showed greater inhibition in a task on attentional inhibition than 26 drug-free control subjects. Inhibition theory is based on the assumption that, during the performance of any mental task, the subject actually goes through a series of alternating states of distraction (non-work) and attention (work). Authors stated that “More research is needed to determine whether greater inhibition represents an advantage or disadvantage for visual search performance of cannabis users.”

The International Faculty of the University of Sheffield, City College, Thessaloniki, Greece.

Vivas AB, et al. Hum Psychopharmacol. 2012 Aug 1. [in press]