The biomedical challenge of neurodegenerative disorders: an opportunity for cannabinoid-based therapies to improve on the poor current therapeutic outcomes

Br J Pharmacol. 2019 May;176(10):1370-1383. doi: 10.1111/bph.14382. Epub 2018 Jul 8.


At the beginning of the 21st century, the therapeutic management of neurodegenerative disorders remains a major biomedical challenge, particularly given the worldwide ageing of the population over the past 50 years that is expected to continue in the forthcoming years. This review will focus on the promise of cannabinoid-based therapies to address this challenge. This promise is based on the broad neuroprotective profile of cannabinoids, which may cooperate to combat excitotoxicity, oxidative stress, glia-driven inflammation and protein aggregation. Such effects may be produced by the activity of cannabinoids through their canonical targets (e.g. cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoid enzymes) and also via non-canonical elements and activities in distinct cell types critical for cell survival or neuronal replacement (e.g. neurons, glia and neural precursor cells). Ultimately, the therapeutic events driven by endocannabinoid signalling reflect the activity of an endogenous system that regulates the preservation, rescue, repair and replacement of neurons and glia. LINKED ARTICLES: This article is part of a themed section on 8th European Workshop on Cannabinoid Research. To view the other articles in this section visit

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / drug effects
  • Aging / metabolism
  • Aging / pathology
  • Animals
  • Biomedical Research*
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / pathology
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Agonists / therapeutic use*
  • Cannabinoids / therapeutic use*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / metabolism
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / pathology
  • Neuroprotective Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Cannabinoid Receptor Agonists
  • Cannabinoids
  • Neuroprotective Agents