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Endocannabinoids in Multiple Sclerosis and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

  • Gareth PryceEmail author
  • David Baker
Part of the Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology book series (HEP, volume 231)

Abstract

There are numerous reports that people with multiple sclerosis (MS) have for many years been self-medicating with illegal street cannabis or more recently medicinal cannabis to alleviate the symptoms associated with MS and also amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). These anecdotal reports have been confirmed by data from animal models and more recently clinical trials on the ability of cannabinoids to alleviate limb spasticity, a common feature of progressive MS (and also ALS) and neurodegeneration. Experimental studies into the biology of the endocannabinoid system have revealed that cannabinoids have efficacy, not only in symptom relief but also as neuroprotective agents which may slow disease progression and thus delay the onset of symptoms. This review discusses what we now know about the endocannabinoid system as it relates to MS and ALS and also the therapeutic potential of cannabinoid therapeutics as disease-modifying or symptom control agents, as well as future therapeutic strategies including the potential for slowing disease progression in MS and ALS.

Keywords

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis Endocannabinoid Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis Multiple sclerosis Neurodegeneration Neuroinflammation Neuroprotection Symptom management 

Abbreviations

2-AG

2-Arachidonoyl glycerol

AEA

Anandamide

ALS

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

EDSS

Expanded disability status scale

EPSC

Excitatory post-synaptic current

FAAH

Fatty acid amide hydrolase

FTD

Fronto-temporal dementia

GABA

Gamma aminobutyric acid

MAG lipase

Monoacylglycerol lipase

MS

Multiple sclerosis

OEA

Oleoylethanolamide

PEA

Palmitoylethanolamide

SOD-1

Superoxide dismutase 1

THC

Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Neuroimmunology, Neuroscience and Trauma Centre, Blizard Institute, Barts and The London School of Medicine and DentistryQueen Mary University of LondonLondonUK

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