In vitro Effect of Cannabidiol on Red Blood Cells: Implication in Long-Lasting Pathology Treatment

Curr Pharm Des. 2024 Jun 13. doi: 10.2174/0113816128287272240529072040. Online ahead of print.


Background: Cannabidiol (CBD) is the principal non-hallucinogenic compound of Cannabis plants with high clinical interest because CBD has been described as having anti-inflammatory, analgesic and anticonvulsant properties. CBD is considered a multitarget compound as it can interact with a wide range of targets, explaining their multiplicity of effects. Some clinical studies have indicated certain side effects of CBD, including somnolence, anemia and diarrhea, while the elevation of transaminases is considered as an exclusion criterion from the trial. Since the red blood cells (RBCs) are a source of transaminase, we assayed in vitro effect on RBCs stability.

Methods: We performed in vitro experiments with RBCs obtained from human peripheral blood with normal hematological parameters exposed to CBD in the range of therapeutic uses. We evaluated RBCs morphological changes, membrane fragility and hemoglobin release as a reflection of hemolysis.

Results: CBD induced an increase in the hemoglobin release (3.27 μg/106 RBC), without altered RBC osmotic fragility. When RBCs suspensions were incubated with CBD the initial number of elements (RBCs + vesicles) was increased up to 65% after 20 min and returned to basal level after 40 min of incubation. In the first 20 min, the accounts of elements were enriched in the smaller vesicles that disappeared after the remaining 20 minutes.

Conclusion: These results suggest that CBD affects the indemnity of erythrocytes in vitro, inducing the formation of hemolytic vesicles that can provide the basis for the development of anemia, transaminase elevation and underlying tissular iron overload in patients chronically treated with CBD.

Keywords: Cannabidiol; anemia; hemolysis.; hemolytic vesicle; red blood cells.