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Cannabinoids are a group of chemicals derived from the cannabis plant (cannabis sativa). Theiler’s virus infection of the central nervous system gives mice an immune mediated demyelinating disease and this has been used as an infection model for multiple sclerosis (MS). Cannabinoids are said to have the potential to be immunosuppressive and have therapeutic abilities in anti inflammatory disorders with no side effects. Theiler’s murine encephalomyelitis virus model was used in this paper to see if a synthetic cannabinoid improved the neurological long term frailties in people with muscle spasticity arising from MS.
Cannabinoids can treat infected spinal cords in mice
Clinical trials have shown that marijuana (cannabis) is said to treat MS symptoms and be beneficial to the immune system. Cannabinoids have been demonstrated to induce remyelination in the spinal cords of TMEV-infected. The amount of axons affected (demyelinated plus remyelinated) in mice that were treated with cannabinoids was not hugely different, resulting that myelin lesions were alike in the different groups. In spinal cords from cannabinoid-treated mice there was a reduction in the amount of demyelinated axons and a massive increase in the number of remyelinating axons. It was seen that the percentage of remyelinating axons in mice that were treated with cannabinoids was at a very high percentage.
Cannabinoids can reduce microglial activation in infected mice
Cannabinoids were seen to reduce microglial activation in TMEV-infected mice. Microglial cells located in the spinal cord of TMEV-infected mice showed a highly reactive morphology in white and gray colour. Microglial cells were seen to process and present myelin epitopes, that related with MHC class II molecules, to CD4 T cells in the central nervous system of TMEV-infected mice. Cannabinoids seemed to decrease microglial activation, repealed histocompatibility complex class II antigen expression, and also reduced the amount of CD4 invading T cells located in the spinal cord. Motor function improvement and anti inflammation occurred during remyelination. These results suggest that cannabinoids have a therapeutic potential in people with MS and the cannabinoid receptor 2 has a big part to play as it would enable non psychoactive therapy to occur for long term treatment.