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Lack of effect of cannabis-based treatment on clinical and laboratory measures in multiple sclerosis


The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is involved in the pathophysiology of multiple sclerosis (MS), and relief from pain and spasticity has been reported in MS patients self-medicating with marijuana. A cannabis-based medication containing Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol (Sativex®) has been approved in some countries for the treatment of MS-associated pain. The effects of this pharmaceutical preparation on other clinically relevant aspects of MS pathophysiology, however, are still unclear. In 20 MS patients, we measured the effects of Sativex® on clinically measured spasticity and on neurophysiological and laboratory parameters that correlate with spasticity severity or with the modulation of the ECS. Sativex® failed to affect spasticity and stretch reflex excitability. This compound also failed to affect the synthesis and the degradation of the endocannabinoid anandamide, as well as the expression of both CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors in various subpopulations of peripheral lymphocytes.

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This study was supported by grants from the Fondazione Italiana Sclerosi Multipla (FISM) to DC and LB; from the Italian National Ministero della Salute to DC and LB; from the Italian National Ministero dell’Università e Ricerca to DC; and from the Fondazione Tercas to MM.

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The authors have no financial considerations to disclose or competing interests to this article.

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Correspondence to Diego Centonze.

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L. Battistini and M. Maccarrone have equally contributed to the present work.

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Centonze, D., Mori, F., Koch, G. et al. Lack of effect of cannabis-based treatment on clinical and laboratory measures in multiple sclerosis. Neurol Sci 30, 531–534 (2009).

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  • Endocannabinoid system
  • H-reflex
  • Inflammation
  • Pain
  • Sativex®
  • Spasticity