Select Minor Cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa are Cannabimimetic and Antinociceptive in a Mouse Model of Chronic Neuropathic Pain

J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2024 Jun 4:JPET-AR-2024-002212. doi: 10.1124/jpet.124.002212. Online ahead of print.


Chronic pain conditions affect nearly 20% of the population in the United States. Current medical interventions, such as opioid drugs, are effective at relieving pain but are accompanied by many undesirable side effects. This is one reason increased numbers of chronic pain patients have been turning to Cannabis for pain management. Cannabis contains many bioactive chemical compounds; however, current research looking into lesser-studied minor cannabinoids in Cannabis lacks uniformity between experimental groups and/or excludes female mice from investigation. This makes it challenging to draw conclusions between experiments done with different minor cannabinoid compounds between labs or parse out potential sex differences that could be present. We chose five minor cannabinoids found in lower quantities within Cannabis: cannabinol (CBN), cannabidivarin (CBDV), cannabigerol (CBG), Δ8-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ8-THC), and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV). These compounds were then tested for their cannabimimetic and pain-relieving behaviors in a cannabinoid tetrad assay and a chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) pain model in male and female CD-1 mice. We found that the minor cannabinoids we tested differed in the cannabimimetic behaviors evoked, as well as the extent. We found that CBN, CBG, and high dose Δ8-THC evoked some tetrad behaviors in both sexes, while THCV and low dose Δ8-THC exhibited cannabimimetic tetrad behaviors only in females. Only CBN efficaciously relieved CIPN pain, which contrasts with reports from other researchers. Together these findings provide further clarity to the pharmacology of minor cannabinoids and suggest further investigation into their mechanism and therapeutic potential. Significance Statement Minor cannabinoids are poorly studied ligands present in lower levels in Cannabis than cannabinoids like THC. In this study we evaluated 5 minor cannabinoids (CBN, CBDV, CBG, THCV, and Δ8-THC) for their cannabimimetic and analgesic effects in mice. We found that 4 of the 5 minor cannabinoids showed cannabimimetic activity, while one was efficacious in relieving chronic neuropathic pain. This work is important in further evaluating the activity of these drugs, which are seeing wider public use with marijuana legalization.

Keywords: Cannabinoid; neuropathic pain.