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The therapeutic potential of the phytocannabinoid cannabidiol for Alzheimer’s disease

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Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common neurodegenerative disorder, characterized by progressive loss of cognition. Over 35 million individuals currently have AD worldwide. Unfortunately, current therapies are limited to very modest symptomatic relief. The brains of AD patients are characterized by the deposition of amyloid-β and hyperphosphorylated forms of tau protein. AD brains also show neurodegeneration and high levels of oxidative stress and inflammation. The phytocannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) possesses neuroprotective, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and reduces amyloid-β production and tau hyperphosphorylation in vitro. CBD has also been shown to be effective in vivo making the phytocannabinoid an interesting candidate for novel therapeutic interventions in AD, especially as it lacks psychoactive or cognition-impairing properties. CBD treatment would be in line with preventative, multimodal drug strategies targeting a combination of pathological symptoms, which might be ideal for AD therapy. Thus, this review will present a brief introduction to AD biology and current treatment options before outlining comprehensively CBD biology and pharmacology, followed by in-vitro and in-vivo evidence for the therapeutic potential of CBD. We will also discuss the role of the endocannabinioid system in AD before commenting on the potential future of CBD for AD therapy (including safety aspects).
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Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; cannabidiol; cannabinoid receptor; cannabinoids; cognition; dementia; endocannabinoid system; learning and memory; mouse model; therapy

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2017

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