Endocannabinoids in Multiple Sclerosis and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Handb Exp Pharmacol. 2015;231:213-31. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-20825-1_7.

Abstract

There are numerous reports that people with multiple sclerosis (MS) have for many years been self-medicating with illegal street cannabis or more recently medicinal cannabis to alleviate the symptoms associated with MS and also amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). These anecdotal reports have been confirmed by data from animal models and more recently clinical trials on the ability of cannabinoids to alleviate limb spasticity, a common feature of progressive MS (and also ALS) and neurodegeneration. Experimental studies into the biology of the endocannabinoid system have revealed that cannabinoids have efficacy, not only in symptom relief but also as neuroprotective agents which may slow disease progression and thus delay the onset of symptoms. This review discusses what we now know about the endocannabinoid system as it relates to MS and ALS and also the therapeutic potential of cannabinoid therapeutics as disease-modifying or symptom control agents, as well as future therapeutic strategies including the potential for slowing disease progression in MS and ALS.

Keywords: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Endocannabinoid; Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis; Multiple sclerosis; Neurodegeneration; Neuroinflammation; Neuroprotection; Symptom management.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / drug therapy
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / metabolism*
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / physiopathology
  • Animals
  • Central Nervous System / drug effects
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism*
  • Central Nervous System / physiopathology
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Endocannabinoids / metabolism*
  • Endocannabinoids / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Multiple Sclerosis / drug therapy
  • Multiple Sclerosis / metabolism*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / physiopathology
  • Prognosis
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / metabolism
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2 / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction

Substances

  • Endocannabinoids
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2