Pharmacological Comparisons Between Cannabidiol and KLS-13019


Cannabidiol (CBD) exhibits neuroprotective properties in many experimental systems. However, development of CBD as a drug has been confounded by the following: (1) low potency; (2) a large number of molecular targets; (3) marginal pharmacokinetic properties; and (4) designation as a schedule 1 controlled substance. The present work compared the properties of CBD with a novel molecule (KLS-13019) that has structural similarities to CBD. The design strategy for KLS-13019 was to increase hydrophilicity while optimizing neuroprotective potency against oxidative stress toxicity relevant to hepatic encephalopathy. The protective responses of CBD and KLS-13019 were compared in dissociated rat hippocampal cultures co-treated with toxic levels of ethanol and ammonium acetate. This comparison revealed that KLS-13019 was 31-fold more potent than CBD in preventing neuronal toxicity from the combined toxin treatment, while both compounds exhibited complete protective efficacy back to control values. In addition, treatment with KLS-13019 alone was 5-fold less toxic (TC50) than CBD. Previous studies suggested that CBD targeted the Na+-Ca2+ exchanger in mitochondria (mNCX) to regulate intracellular calcium levels, an important determinant of neuronal survival. After treatment with an inhibitor of mNCX (CGP-37157), no detectable neuroprotection from ethanol toxicity was observed for either CBD or KLS-13019. Furthermore, AM630 (CB2 antagonist) significantly attenuated CBD-mediated neuroprotection, while having no detectable effect on neuroprotection from KLS-13019. Our studies indicated KLS-13019 was more potent and less toxic than CBD. Both compounds can act through mNCX. KLS-13019 may provide an alternative to CBD as a therapeutic candidate to treat diseases associated with oxidative stress.

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Correspondence to Douglas E. Brenneman.

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Brenneman, D.E., Petkanas, D. & Kinney, W.A. Pharmacological Comparisons Between Cannabidiol and KLS-13019. J Mol Neurosci 66, 121–134 (2018) doi:10.1007/s12031-018-1154-7

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  • Cannabidiol
  • Oxidative stress
  • Mitochondrial Na+-Ca2+ exchanger
  • Neuroprotection
  • Cannabis
  • Hippocampal cultures
  • Ethanol