Cannabidiol Protects Striatal Neurons by Attenuating Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress

Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2022 Nov 28. doi: 10.1089/can.2022.0090. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Introduction: The aggregation of misfolded proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is a pathological trait shared by many neurodegenerative disorders. This aggregation leads to the persistent activation of the unfolded protein response (UPR) and ultimately apoptosis as a result of ER stress. Cannabidiol (CBD) has been demonstrated to be neuroprotective in various cellular and animal models of neurodegeneration, which has been attributed to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. However, little is known about the role of CBD in the context of protein folding and ER stress. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether CBD is neuroprotective against an in vitro model of ER stress. Materials and Methods: Using different exposure models, mouse striatal STHdhQ7/Q7 cells were exposed to either the ER stress inducer thapsigargin (TG) and/or CBD. Cell viabilities assays were used to investigate the effect of CBD pre-treatment, co-treatment, and post-treatment on TG-induced cell death. Real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction was used to measure changes in ER stress regulators and UPR genes such as glucose-regulated protein-78 (GRP78), mesencephalic astrocyte-derived neurotrophic factor (MANF), B cell lymphoma 2 (BCL-2), BCL-2 interacting mediator of cell death (BIM), and caspase-12. Results: Cell viability increased significantly when cells were pre-treated with CBD before TG exposure. An increase in the gene expression of pro-survival ER chaperone GRP78 and ER-resident neurotrophic factor MANF coincided with this effect and decreased ER-mediated pro-apoptotic markers such as BIM, and caspase-12 was observed. Conclusions: These data suggest that CBD pre-treatment is neuroprotective against TG-induced cell death. Understanding the role of ER stress in CBD-driven neuroprotection provides insight into the therapeutic potential of CBD and the role of ER dysfunction in neurodegenerative disorders.

Keywords: cannabidiol; endoplasmic reticulum stress; neuroprotection; thapsigargin; unfolded protein response.