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A Deep Dive into the Protective Role of Astrocytes Against CBD Neurotoxicity

Jun 2, 2023


Daejeon, South Korea--Cannabis, known for its medicinal and recreational uses, contains over 100 cannabinoids, including the famous delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Unlike THC, CBD doesn't exhibit psychoactive effects and interacts with our internal endocannabinoid system, influencing physiological functions.

[Image via Advanced Science News]

According to an Advanced Science News report, cannabis has been used to treat several conditions, including neurological disorders. The FDA approved the first CBD-based medicine in 2018 for certain types of epilepsy. Despite its benefits, CBD has potential side effects, including the risk of neuron death. Astrocytes, a type of brain cell, have been found to shield neurons from harm.

The report noted that researchers from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST) have investigated how astrocytes protect neurons from CBD toxicity. They designed an innovative 'sandwich' co-culture system for this study, allowing astrocytes and neurons to be grown independently yet enabling the study of their interactions.

"We previously found that high doses of CBD could harm neurons," stated, as per the report, Professor Insung Choi from KAIST. "However, this study has revealed that astrocytes can actually mitigate this harmful effect."

Additionally, the report noted that experiments revealed that astrocytes substantially reduced the neurotoxicity observed at high CBD concentrations, highlighting the protective role of these cells. The researchers suggest astrocytes rescue neurons from CBD toxicity by modulating intracellular calcium mechanisms.

Choi's team also discovered that astrocyte secretions accelerated neuronal development in response to CBD, hinting at a new therapeutic approach for brain injuries involving a combination of CBD and astrocyte-produced substances.

The report stated that this research paves the way for potential optimization of CBD-based treatments for neurological disorders. However, more investigations are required to understand CBD's impact on different brain regions and the effects of cannabis on the nervous system for both medicinal and recreational uses.

Learn more in the Advanced Science News report.