Acute and chronic cannabinoid extracts administration affects motor function in a CREAE model of multiple sclerosis

J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Feb 16;133(3):1033-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2010.11.035. Epub 2010 Nov 19.


Aim of the study: The multiple sclerosis is an immuno-mediated disorder of the Central Nervous System characterized by inflammatory processes and neurodegenerative changes. It has been shown that the endocannabinoid system is altered in this disease and that the exogenous cannabinoids may play a possible role in its therapeutic management. The aim of the present study was to investigate the efficacy of crude extracts of Cannabis sativa on motor symptoms in the chronic relapsing experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (CREAE), a murine model of multiple sclerosis.

Materials and methods: CREAE-induced mice were injected by different crude ethanolic extracts from Cannabis sativa, containing Δ⁹-tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol, or cannabinoid-free, respectively. The effect of the combined treatment with Δ⁹-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol extracts has also been investigated. All extracts were administered in acute and chronic experimental protocols.

Results: The chronic administration of Δ⁹-tetrahydrocannabinol-rich extract resulted in a significant reduction of neurological deficits that lasted until the end of the observations. The acute and chronic treatments with the cannabidiol-rich extract resulted unable to induce changes of neurological signs. However, during the relapse phase a significant decrease of neurological scores was observed. The combined treatment with Δ⁹-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol extracts was ineffective, whereas the acute administration of the cannabinoid-free extract showed a significant improvement.

Conclusions: Our study shows a patchy effect of different cannabinoid extracts on CREAE-induced motor deficits. Although the effect of crude extracts of Cannabis sativa here reported need to be further investigated to define the exact therapeutic target of each cannabinoid, it may represent a possible therapeutic approach for the management of the multiple sclerosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cannabinoids / administration & dosage
  • Cannabinoids / pharmacology*
  • Cannabinoids / therapeutic use
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Motor Activity / drug effects*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / drug therapy*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / physiopathology
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use


  • Cannabinoids
  • Plant Extracts