Cannabinoid Type 2 and Autism

Cannabinoid Receptor Type 2, but not Type 1, is Up-Regulated in Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells of Children Affected by Autistic Disorders.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23585028

Division of Pharmacology, Department of Experimental Medicine, Second University of Naples, via S. Maria di Costantinopoli, 16, 80138, Naples, Italy, dariosin@uab.edu.

Abstract

Autistic disorders (ADs) are heterogeneous neurodevelopmental disorders arised by the interaction of genes and environmental factors. Dysfunctions in social interaction and communication skills, repetitive and stereotypic verbal and non-verbal behaviours are common features of ADs.

There are no defined mechanisms of pathogenesis, rendering curative therapy very difficult. Indeed, the treatments for autism presently available can be divided into behavioural, nutritional and medical approaches, although no defined standard approach exists.

Autistic children display immune system dysregulation and show an altered immune response of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs).

In this study, we investigated the involvement of cannabinoid system in PBMCs from autistic children compared to age-matched normal healthy developing controls (age ranging 3-9 years; mean age: 6.06 ± 1.52 vs. 6.14 ± 1.39 in autistic children and healthy subjects, respectively).

The mRNA level for cannabinoid receptor type 2 (CB2) was significantly increased in AD-PBMCs as compared to healthy subjects (mean ± SE of arbitrary units: 0.34 ± 0.03 vs. 0.23 ± 0.02 in autistic children and healthy subjects, respectively), whereas CB1 and fatty acid amide hydrolase mRNA levels were unchanged. mRNA levels of N-acylphosphatidylethanolamine-hydrolyzing phospholipase D gene were slightly decreased. Protein levels of CB-2 were also significantly increased in autistic children (mean ± SE of arbitrary units: 33.5 ± 1.32 vs. 6.70 ± 1.25 in autistic children and healthy subjects, respectively).

Our data indicate CB2 receptor as potential therapeutic target for the pharmacological management of the autism care.

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Cannabinoid Receptor Type 2 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabinoid_receptor_type_2

Expression

Immune System

Initial investigation of CB2 receptor expression patterns focused on the presence of CB2 receptors in the peripheral tissues of the immune system [6] and found CB2 receptor mRNA is found throughout tissues of the spleen, tonsils, and thymus gland.[6] Northern blot analysis further indicates the expression of the CNR2 gene in immune tissues,[6] where they are primarily responsible for mediating cytokine release.[16] These receptors were primarily localized on immune cells such as monocytes, macrophages, B-cells, and T-cells.[2][6][17][18][19]

Brain

Further investigation into the expression patterns of the CB2 receptors revealed that CB2 receptor gene transcripts are also expressed in the brain, though not as densely as the CB1 receptor and located on different cells.[20] Unlike the CB1 receptor, in the brain, CB2 receptors are found primarily on microglia, but not neurons.[16][21]

Gastrointestinal System

CB2 receptors are also found throughout the gastrointestinal system, where they modulate intestinal inflammatory response.[22][23] Thus, CB2 receptor agonists are a potential therapeutic target for inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.[23][24] The role of endocannabinoids, as such, play an important role in inhibiting unnecessary immune action upon the natural gut flora. Dysfunction of this system, perhaps from overactive FAAH activity, could result in IBD.

Peripheral Nervous System

Application of CB2-specific antagonists has found that these receptors are also involved in mediating analgesic effects in the peripheral nervous system. However, these receptors are not expressed by nociceptive sensory neurons, and at present are believed to exist on an undetermined, non-neuronal cell. Possible candidates include mast cells, known to facilitate the inflammatory response. Cannabinoid mediated inhibition of these responses may cause a decrease in the perception of noxious-stimuli.[4]

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This entry was posted in Autism, Gut, Immune System, Inflammation, Neurology, Physiology, Treatment. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Cannabinoid Type 2 and Autism

  1. Reblogged this on cannabisforautism and commented:
    Researchers in Naples have found some differences in the average autistic child’s endocannabinoid system. Having more CB2 receptors (Both Cannabidiol and THC bind to this receptor), may explain why many autistic people find cannabis useful, and also why it doesn’t seem to matter too much whether it’s THC or CBD or both in many cases. More research is needed.

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