MAR 06, 2018 10:00 PM PST

Increasing Endogenous Cannabinoid Levels May Reduce Neuropathic Orofacial Pain

WRITTEN BY: Mauri Brueggeman

Neurotransmitter systems in the body have incredible functionality and versatility.  One such system is the Endocannabinoid System (ES).  Studies have begun examining the complex interaction of this system in the body and within numerous physiological processes. Recent research has shown the usefulness of cannabis compounds, specifically cannabinoids, in the treatment of neuropathic pain through ES complex signalling mechanisms.  Many have focused their attention solely on phytocannabinoids found in the cannabis plant or endocannabinoids found in the human body.  Still others have explored the pathophysiological process to better understand neuropathic pain.

The process of feeling or sensing pain involves the endocannabinoid system and researchers have found cannabis and phytocannabinoids can reduce neuropathic pain symptoms.  Some groups have chosen to evaluate options for reducing pain in specific types of neuropathies.  One area of active research is in neuropathic orofacial pain (NOP). 

There are a multitude of causes for NOP and the underlying physiological process of why that pain occurs is mostly unknown so identifying therapeutic options is challenging.  Researchers in Europe began looking that this years ago but a new article in Journal of Oral Science’s March 2018 publication provides new insights into the possibilities of pain management for orofacial pain.

The group began examining how endocannabinoids (produced in the body) affect pain receptors and designed an animal study to manipulate endocannabinoids in vivo and evaluate their perceived effects on NOP.  Kamimura, et al., (J Oral Sci) postulated that the endocannabinoid 2-arachydonoylglycerol (2-AG) present in the brain could reduce the pain signals generated by orofacial nerve injury or damage.  2-AG is degraded by enzymes in vivo causing pain signals to chronically persist.  The researchers introduced an inhibition factor, JZL184, which prevents the enzymatic action of monoacylglycerol (MAGL).  MAGL breaks down 2-AG in vivo.

Upon completion of this study, Kamimura, et al. found that by restricting degradation of 2-AG, therefore leaving increased amounts of endogenous 2-AG in the brain, orofacial pain was attenuated.  This mechanism shows promise for future therapeutic treatment options for NOP.  Additional challenges are the differences between animal studies and translation to human trials; however, because the compounds used in the study are endogenous normally, perhaps converting the design for clinical trials may not be quite as challenging. 

 

 

 

Sources: Journal of Oral SciencePain, International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology,

About the Author
  • Mauri S. Brueggeman is a Medical Laboratory Scientist and Educator with a background in Cytogenetics and a Masters in Education from the University of Minnesota. She has worked in the clinical laboratory, taught at the University of Minnesota, and been in post secondary healthcare education administration. She is passionate about advances and leadership in science, medicine, and education.
You May Also Like
APR 22, 2021
Cannabis Sciences
Cannabis Use Disorder in Pregnancy Linked to Infant Health Problems
APR 22, 2021
Cannabis Use Disorder in Pregnancy Linked to Infant Health Problems
Researchers have found that babies born to mothers diagnosed with cannabis use disorders at delivery are more likely to ...
MAY 04, 2021
Health & Medicine
Micro-dosing Inhaler Breakthrough for Medical Cannabis
MAY 04, 2021
Micro-dosing Inhaler Breakthrough for Medical Cannabis
In a leap that will eliminate the risks of vaping or smoking, Canada has just approved an Israeli-made inhaler that is a ...
MAY 12, 2021
Cannabis Sciences
Cannabis Users with Heart Disorders More Likely to Die in Hospital
MAY 12, 2021
Cannabis Users with Heart Disorders More Likely to Die in Hospital
Researchers have found that hospitalized cannabis users with arrhythmia, a heart rhythm disorder, are 4.5 times more lik ...
MAY 19, 2021
Cannabis Sciences
DEA Ends the Monopoly on "Research-Grade" Cannabis
MAY 19, 2021
DEA Ends the Monopoly on "Research-Grade" Cannabis
The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has slipped out an announcement that’s going to have a huge impact on ...
JUN 24, 2021
Health & Medicine
Cannabis Use in Military Vets on the Increase
JUN 24, 2021
Cannabis Use in Military Vets on the Increase
A new study shows an increase in the number of U.S. military veterans using cannabis, although Veteran Affairs doctors s ...
JUL 24, 2021
Cannabis Sciences
Causal Link Between Cannabis Use Disorder and Schizophrenia
JUL 24, 2021
Causal Link Between Cannabis Use Disorder and Schizophrenia
A study from Denmark has found that the proportion of schizophrenia cases linked to cannabis use disorder has increased ...
Loading Comments...