Cannabidiol regulates CB1-pSTAT3 signaling for neurite outgrowth, prolongs lifespan, and improves health span in Caenorhabditis elegans of Aβ pathology models

FASEB J. 2021 May;35(5):e21537. doi: 10.1096/fj.202002724R.


Cannabidiol (CBD), a phytocannabinoid from the Cannabis sativa plant, exhibits a broad spectrum of potential therapeutic properties for neurodegenerative diseases. An accumulation of amyloid-β (Aβ) protein is one of the most important neuropathology in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's disease (AD). Data on the effect of CBD on the amelioration of Aβ-induced neurite degeneration and its consequences of life and health spans is sparse. This study aimed to investigate the effects of CBD on neurite outgrowth in cells and lifespan and health span in Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans). In human SH-SY5Y neuronal cells, CBD prevented neurite lesion induced by Aβ1-42 and increased the expression of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) and cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1R). Furthermore, CBD both protected the reduction of dendritic spine density and rescued the activity of synaptic Ca2+ /calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) from Aβ1-42 toxicity in primary hippocampal neurons. In C. elegans, we used the transgenic CL2355 strain of C. elegans, which expresses the human Aβ peptide throughout the nervous system and found that CBD treatment extended lifespan and improved health span. The neuroprotective effect of CBD was further explored by observing the dopaminergic neurons using transgenic dat-1: GFP strains using the confocal microscope. This study shows that CBD prevents the neurite degeneration induced by Aβ, by a mechanism involving CB1R activation, and extends lifespan and improves health span in Aβ-overexpressing worms. Our findings support the potential therapeutic approach of CBD for the treatment of AD patients.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; Caenorhabditis elegans; amyloid-β; cannabidiol; cannabinoid receptor 1; neurite degeneration.