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From cannabis to endocannabinoids in multiple sclerosis: a paradigm of central nervous system autoimmune diseases.

Authors
  • Malfitano, Anna Maria
  • Matarese, Giuseppe
  • Bifulco, Maurizio
Type
Published Article
Journal
Current drug targets. CNS and neurological disorders
Publication Date
Dec 01, 2005
Volume
4
Issue
6
Pages
667–675
Identifiers
PMID: 16375684
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

An increasing body of evidence suggests that cannabinoids have beneficial effects on the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, including spasticity and pain. Endogenous molecules with cannabinoid-like activity, such as the "endocannabinoids", have been shown to mimic the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabinoids through the cannabinoid receptors. Several studies suggest that cannabinoids and endocannabinoids may have a key role in the pathogenesis and therapy of multiple sclerosis. Indeed, they can down regulate the production of pathogenic T helper 1-associated cytokines enhancing the production of T helper 2-associated protective cytokines. A shift towards T helper 2 has been associated with therapeutic benefit in multiple sclerosis. In addition, cannabinoids exert a neuromodulatory effect on neurotransmitters and hormones involved in the neurodegenerative phase of the disease. In vivo studies using mice with experimental allergic encephalomyelitis, an animal model of multiple sclerosis, suggest that the increase of the circulating levels of endocannabinoids might have a therapeutic effect, and that agonists of endocannabinoids with low psychoactive effects could open new strategies for the treatment of multiple sclerosis.

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