Activation of the Cannabinoid Type 2 Receptor by a Novel Indazole Derivative Normalizes the Survival Pattern of Lymphoblasts from Patients with Late-Onset Alzheimer's Disease

CNS Drugs. 2018 Jun;32(6):579-591. doi: 10.1007/s40263-018-0515-7.


Background: Alzheimer's disease is a multifactorial disorder for which there is no disease-modifying treatment yet. CB2 receptors have emerged as a promising therapeutic target for Alzheimer's disease because they are expressed in neuronal and glial cells and their activation has no psychoactive effects.

Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate whether activation of the CB2 receptor would restore the aberrant enhanced proliferative activity characteristic of immortalized lymphocytes from patients with late-onset Alzheimer's disease. It is assumed that cell-cycle dysfunction occurs in both peripheral cells and neurons in patients with Alzheimer's disease, contributing to the instigation of the disease.

Methods: Lymphoblastoid cell lines from patients with Alzheimer's disease and age-matched control individuals were treated with a new, in-house-designed dual drug PGN33, which behaves as a CB2 agonist and butyrylcholinesterase inhibitor. We analyzed the effects of this compound on the rate of cell proliferation and levels of key regulatory proteins. In addition, we investigated the potential neuroprotective action of PGN33 in β-amyloid-treated neuronal cells.

Results: We report here that PGN33 normalized the increased proliferative activity of Alzheimer's disease lymphoblasts. The compound blunted the calmodulin-dependent overactivation of the PI3K/Akt pathway, by restoring the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p27 levels, which in turn reduced the activity of the cyclin-dependent kinase/pRb cascade. Moreover, this CB2 agonist prevented β-amyloid-induced cell death in neuronal cells.

Conclusion: Our results suggest that the activation of CB2 receptors could be considered a useful therapeutic approach for Alzheimer's disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease* / drug therapy
  • Alzheimer Disease* / metabolism
  • Alzheimer Disease* / mortality
  • Alzheimer Disease* / pathology
  • Animals
  • Bromodeoxyuridine / metabolism
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cell Line, Transformed
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Embryo, Mammalian
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Indazoles / chemistry
  • Indazoles / pharmacology
  • Indazoles / therapeutic use*
  • Lymphocytes / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuroprotective Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Phosphopyruvate Hydratase / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2 / agonists
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2 / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Time Factors


  • CNR2 protein, human
  • Indazoles
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Phosphopyruvate Hydratase
  • Bromodeoxyuridine