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Journal: Neurotherapeutics : the journal of the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics


Cannabidiol (CBD), a Cannabis sativa constituent, is a pharmacologically broad-spectrum drug that in recent years has drawn increasing interest as a treatment for a range of neuropsychiatric disorders. The purpose of the current review is to determine CBD’s potential as a treatment for anxiety-related disorders, by assessing evidence from preclinical, human experimental, clinical, and epidemiological studies. We found that existing preclinical evidence strongly supports CBD as a treatment for generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder when administered acutely; however, few studies have investigated chronic CBD dosing. Likewise, evidence from human studies supports an anxiolytic role of CBD, but is currently limited to acute dosing, also with few studies in clinical populations. Overall, current evidence indicates CBD has considerable potential as a treatment for multiple anxiety disorders, with need for further study of chronic and therapeutic effects in relevant clinical populations.

Concepts: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, Cognitive behavioral therapy, Anxiety disorder, Generalized anxiety disorder, Panic disorder, Alprazolam, Anxiety disorders, Social anxiety disorder


Over the last 15 years, some 16 open and controlled clinical trials for potential treatments of mitochondrial diseases have been reported or are in progress, and are summarized and reviewed herein. These include trials of administering dichloroacetate (an activator of pyruvate dehydrogenase complex), arginine or citrulline (precursors of nitric oxide), coenzyme Q(10) (CoQ(10); part of the electron transport chain and an antioxidant), idebenone (a synthetic analogue of CoQ(10)), EPI-743 (a novel oral potent 2-electron redox cycling agent), creatine (a precursor of phosphocreatine), combined administration (of creatine, α-lipoate, and CoQ(10)), and exercise training (to increase muscle mitochondria). These trials have included patients with various mitochondrial disorders, a selected subcategory of mitochondrial disorders, or specific mitochondrial disorders (Leber hereditary optic neuropathy or mitochondrial encephalopathy, lactic acidosis, and stroke-like episodes). The trial designs have varied from open-label/uncontrolled, open-label/controlled, or double-blind/placebo-controlled/crossover. Primary outcomes have ranged from single, clinically-relevant scores to multiple measures. Eight of these trials have been well-controlled, completed trials. Of these only 1 (treatment with creatine) showed a significant change in primary outcomes, but this was not reproduced in 2 subsequent trials with creatine with different patients. One trial (idebenone treatment of Leber hereditary optic neuropathy) did not show significant improvement in the primary outcome, but there was significant improvement in a subgroup of patients. Despite the paucity of benefits found so far, well-controlled clinical trials are essential building blocks in the continuing search for more effective treatment of mitochondrial disease, and current trials based on information gained from these prior experiences are in progress. Because of difficulties in recruiting sufficient mitochondrial disease patients and the relatively large expense of conducting such trials, advantageous strategies include crossover designs (where possible), multicenter collaboration, and the selection of very few, clinically relevant, primary outcomes.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Metabolism, Adenosine triphosphate, Mitochondrion, Mitochondrial DNA, Cellular respiration, Mitochondrial disease, Mitochondrial diseases


Peripheral nerve injury downregulates the expression of the μ-opioid receptor (MOR) and voltage-gated potassium channel subunit Kv1.2 by increasing their DNA methylation in the dorsal root ganglion (DRG). Ten-eleven translocation methylcytosine dioxygenase 1 (TET1) causes DNA demethylation. Given that DRG MOR and Kv1.2 downregulation contribute to neuropathic pain genesis, this study investigated the effect of DRG TET1 overexpression on neuropathic pain. Overexpression of TET1 in the DRG through microinjection of herpes simplex virus expressing full-length TET1 mRNA into the injured rat DRG significantly alleviated the fifth lumbar spinal nerve ligation (SNL)-induced pain hypersensitivities during the development and maintenance periods, without altering acute pain or locomotor function. This microinjection also restored morphine analgesia and attenuated morphine analgesic tolerance development after SNL. Mechanistically, TET1 microinjection rescued the expression of MOR and Kv1.2 by reducing the level of 5-methylcytosine and increasing the level of 5-hydroxymethylcytosine in the promoter and 5' untranslated regions of the Oprml1 gene (encoding MOR) and in the promoter region of the Kcna2 gene (encoding Kv1.2) in the DRG ipsilateral to SNL. These findings suggest that DRG TET1 overexpression mitigated neuropathic pain likely through rescue of MOR and Kv1.2 expression in the ipsilateral DRG. Virus-mediated DRG delivery of TET1 may open a new avenue for neuropathic pain management.


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disabling, chronic disease that imposes a significant economic burden on patients and the US healthcare system. The largest cost component for individuals with MS are prescription drugs, specifically disease-modifying therapies (DMTs). Despite an increase in the number and diversity of DMTs over the past 10 years, acquisition costs for all DMTs have escalated dramatically at rates substantially higher than medical inflation. Currently, costs for most DMTs exceed $70,000 a year. Recent cost-effectiveness studies suggest the cost for nearly all DMTs exceeds generally accepted thresholds for what is considered a good value in the USA, even after factoring expected rebates. The high cost of DMTs is symptomatic of systemic dysfunction in the pharmaceutical market. Strategies aimed at reigning in high-cost medications include proposals ranging from increasing pricing transparency to allowing Medicare to negotiate directly with manufacturers. Because the economics of pharmaceuticals are inherently complex, a diversity of approaches will be required.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Prescription drug, Medicine, Multiple sclerosis, Economics, Corticosteroid, Pharmaceutical drug, Food and Drug Administration


Multiple cannabinoids derived from the marijuana plant have potential therapeutic benefits but most have not been well investigated, despite the widespread legalization of medical marijuana in the USA and other countries. Therapeutic indications will depend on determinations as to which of the multiple cannabinoids, and other biologically active chemicals that are present in the marijuana plant, can be developed to treat specific symptoms and/or diseases. Such insights are particularly critical for addiction disorders, where different phytocannabinoids appear to induce opposing actions that can confound the development of treatment interventions. Whereas Δ(9)-tetracannabinol has been well documented to be rewarding and to enhance sensitivity to other drugs, cannabidiol (CBD), in contrast, appears to have low reinforcing properties with limited abuse potential and to inhibit drug-seeking behavior. Other considerations such as CBD’s anxiolytic properties and minimal adverse side effects also support its potential viability as a treatment option for a variety of symptoms associated with drug addiction. However, significant research is still needed as CBD investigations published to date primarily relate to its effects on opioid drugs, and CBD’s efficacy at different phases of the abuse cycle for different classes of addictive substances remain largely understudied. Our paper provides an overview of preclinical animal and human clinical investigations, and presents preliminary clinical data that collectively sets a strong foundation in support of the further exploration of CBD as a therapeutic intervention against opioid relapse. As the legal landscape for medical marijuana unfolds, it is important to distinguish it from "medical CBD" and other specific cannabinoids, that can more appropriately be used to maximize the medicinal potential of the marijuana plant.

Concepts: Drug, Opioid, Morphine, Drug addiction, Addiction, Cannabis, Substance abuse, Recreational drug use


Cladribine is a purine nucleoside analogue that selectively depletes peripheral lymphocytes without a major impact on cells of the innate immune system. An oral formulation of cladribine has been developed to be given as short courses over two annual cycles. Oral cladribine results in the peripheral depletion of lymphocytes that is gradual, occurring over several weeks, and is not associated with a cell lysis syndrome, has a greater impact on B cells than T cells, and is followed by gradual reconstitution of the peripheral lymphocyte counts over several months. Oral cladribine is effective in relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis. As a selective immune reconstitution therapy (SIRT), cladribine acts as a short-term immunosuppressant, relative to other maintenance immunosuppressive therapies that result in long-term immunosuppression. The main safety signal that has emerge relates primarily to herpes zoster infection, which was more common in patients with higher grades of lymphopenia, in particular grade 3 and 4 lymphopenia. Data from the oral cladribine extension trial and safety register, and reanalysis of the pivotal phase III trial has indicated that oral cladribine is unlikely to be associated with an increased short- to intermediate-term risk of malignancy.

Concepts: Immune system, Lymphocyte, Antibody, Innate immune system, B cell, Humoral immunity, Multiple sclerosis, Thymus


This retrospective cohort study is to investigate the association between herpes simplex virus (HSV) infections and dementia, and the effects of anti-herpetic medications on the risk involved, using Taiwan’s National Health Insurance Research Database (NHIRD). We enrolled a total of 33,448 subjects, and identified 8362 with newly diagnosed HSV infections and 25,086 randomly selected sex- and age-matched controls without HSV infections in a ratio of 1:3, selected from January 1, to December 31, 2000. A multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression model was used to evaluate the risk of developing dementia in the HSV cohort. This analysis revealed an adjusted hazard ratio of 2.564 (95% CI: 2.351-2.795, P < 0.001) for the development of dementia in the HSV-infected cohort relative to the non-HSV cohort. Thus, patients with HSV infections may have a 2.56-fold increased risk of developing dementia. A risk reduction of dementia development in patients affected by HSV infections was found upon treatment with anti-herpetic medications (adjusted HR = 0.092 [95% CI 0.079-0.108], P < 0.001). The usage of anti-herpetic medications in the treatment of HSV infections was associated with a decreased risk of dementia. These findings could be a signal to clinicians caring for patients with HSV infections. Further research is, therefore, necessary to explore the underlying mechanism(s) of these associations.

Concepts: Cohort study, Proportional hazards models, Virus, Relative risk, Herpes simplex virus, Herpesviridae, Herpes simplex, Hazard


The complex bidirectional communication between the gut and the brain is finely orchestrated by different systems, including the endocrine, immune, autonomic, and enteric nervous systems. Moreover, increasing evidence supports the role of the microbiome and microbiota-derived molecules in regulating such interactions; however, the mechanisms underpinning such effects are only beginning to be resolved. Microbiota-gut peptide interactions are poised to be of great significance in the regulation of gut-brain signaling. Given the emerging role of the gut-brain axis in a variety of brain disorders, such as anxiety and depression, it is important to understand the contribution of bidirectional interactions between peptide hormones released from the gut and intestinal bacteria in the context of this axis. Indeed, the gastrointestinal tract is the largest endocrine organ in mammals, secreting dozens of different signaling molecules, including peptides. Gut peptides in the systemic circulation can bind cognate receptors on immune cells and vagus nerve terminals thereby enabling indirect gut-brain communication. Gut peptide concentrations are not only modulated by enteric microbiota signals, but also vary according to the composition of the intestinal microbiota. In this review, we will discuss the gut microbiota as a regulator of anxiety and depression, and explore the role of gut-derived peptides as signaling molecules in microbiome-gut-brain communication. Here, we summarize the potential interactions of the microbiota with gut hormones and endocrine peptides, including neuropeptide Y, peptide YY, pancreatic polypeptide, cholecystokinin, glucagon-like peptide, corticotropin-releasing factor, oxytocin, and ghrelin in microbiome-to-brain signaling. Together, gut peptides are important regulators of microbiota-gut-brain signaling in health and stress-related psychiatric illnesses.

Concepts: Immune system, Protein, Bacteria, Gut flora, Nutrition, Obesity, Pancreas, Peptide


Cannabis has been used for centuries to treat seizures. Recent anecdotal reports, accumulating animal model data, and mechanistic insights have raised interest in cannabis-based antiepileptic therapies. In this study, we review current understanding of the endocannabinoid system, characterize the pro- and anticonvulsive effects of cannabinoids [e.g., Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol (CBD)], and highlight scientific evidence from pre-clinical and clinical trials of cannabinoids in epilepsy. These studies suggest that CBD avoids the psychoactive effects of the endocannabinoid system to provide a well-tolerated, promising therapeutic for the treatment of seizures, while whole-plant cannabis can both contribute to and reduce seizures. Finally, we discuss results from a new multicenter, open-label study using CBD in a population with treatment-resistant epilepsy. In all, we seek to evaluate our current understanding of cannabinoids in epilepsy and guide future basic science and clinical studies.

Concepts: Clinical trial, The Canon of Medicine, Epilepsy, Anticonvulsant, Cannabis, Cannabidiol, Evidence, Anecdotal evidence


Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) depletion syndromes (MDS) are a genetically and clinically heterogeneous group of autosomal recessive disorders that are characterized by a severe reduction in mtDNA content leading to impaired energy production in affected tissues and organs. MDS are due to defects in mtDNA maintenance caused by mutations in nuclear genes that function in either mitochondrial nucleotide synthesis (TK2, SUCLA2, SUCLG1, RRM2B, DGUOK, and TYMP) or mtDNA replication (POLG and C10orf2). MDS are phenotypically heterogeneous and usually classified as myopathic, encephalomyopathic, hepatocerebral or neurogastrointestinal. Myopathic MDS, caused by mutations in TK2, usually present before the age of 2 years with hypotonia and muscle weakness. Encephalomyopathic MDS, caused by mutations in SUCLA2, SUCLG1, or RRM2B, typically present during infancy with hypotonia and pronounced neurological features. Hepatocerebral MDS, caused by mutations in DGUOK, MPV17, POLG, or C10orf2, commonly have an early-onset liver dysfunction and neurological involvement. Finally, TYMP mutations have been associated with mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalopathy (MNGIE) disease that typically presents before the age of 20 years with progressive gastrointestinal dysmotility and peripheral neuropathy. Overall, MDS are severe disorders with poor prognosis in the majority of affected individuals. No efficacious therapy is available for any of these disorders. Affected individuals should have a comprehensive evaluation to assess the degree of involvement of different systems. Treatment is directed mainly toward providing symptomatic management. Nutritional modulation and cofactor supplementation may be beneficial. Liver transplantation remains controversial. Finally, stem cell transplantation in MNGIE disease shows promising results.

Concepts: DNA, Genetics, Genetic disorder, Allele, Mitochondrion, Mitochondrial DNA, Gregor Mendel, Mitochondrial disease