Cannabidiol induces autophagy and improves neuronal health associated with SIRT1 mediated longevity

Geroscience. 2022 Jun;44(3):1505-1524. doi: 10.1007/s11357-022-00559-7. Epub 2022 Apr 20.


Autophagy is a catabolic process to eliminate defective cellular molecules via lysosome-mediated degradation. Dysfunctional autophagy is associated with accelerated aging, whereas stimulation of autophagy could have potent anti-aging effects. We report that cannabidiol (CBD), a natural compound from Cannabis sativa, extends lifespan and rescues age-associated physiological declines in C. elegans. CBD promoted autophagic flux in nerve-ring neurons visualized by a tandem-tagged LGG-1 reporter during aging in C. elegans. Similarly, CBD activated autophagic flux in hippocampal and SH-SY5Y neurons. Furthermore, CBD-mediated lifespan extension was dependent on autophagy genes (bec-1, vps-34, and sqst-1) confirmed by RNAi knockdown experiments. C. elegans neurons have previously been shown to accumulate aberrant morphologies, such as beading and blebbing, with increasing age. Interestingly, CBD treatment slowed the development of these features in anterior and posterior touch receptor neurons (TRN) during aging. RNAi knockdown experiments indicated that CBD-mediated age-associated morphological changes in TRNs require bec-1 and sqst-1, not vps-34. Further investigation demonstrated that CBD-induced lifespan extension and increased neuronal health require sir-2.1/SIRT1. These findings collectively indicate the anti-aging benefits of CBD treatment, in both in vitro and in vivo models, and its potential to improve neuronal health and longevity.

Keywords: Aging; Autophagy; C. elegans; Cannabidiol; Neurite outgrowth; SIRT1/sir-2.1.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autophagy / physiology
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Cannabidiol* / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Longevity / physiology
  • Neuroblastoma*
  • Neurons
  • Sirtuin 1


  • Cannabidiol
  • SIRT1 protein, human
  • Sirtuin 1