The actions of cannabidiol and palmitoylethanolamide on inflammation and permeability of the gut

Couch, Daniel (2018) The actions of cannabidiol and palmitoylethanolamide on inflammation and permeability of the gut. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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In health, the gut provides a barrier between the external and internal environment. This selectively permeable barrier allows absorption of nutrients and water from the gastrointestinal contents, whilst preventing the transfer of noxious material such as bacteria. During episodes of inflammation, this barrier becomes compromised, allowing transfer of noxious material into the systemic circulation, leading to disease states such as inflammatory bowel disease and septic shock. There are no clinically available compounds to combat this increase in permeability directly.

The endocannabinoid system is a group of endogenous lipid signalling molecules which activate membrane-bound receptors. Plant-derived and synthetic compounds also act at these receptors, generating a wide variety of secondary effects. The aims of this study were to identify compounds with action on the endocannabinoid system which could be used clinically to treat inflammation and hyperpermeability of the gastrointestinal tract, exploring mechanisms of action.

Systematic review and meta-analysis of existing literature revealed 51 preclinical studies, and 2 clinical studies examining the effect of cannabinoid compounds. In preclinical studies, cannabinoid drugs reduced myeloperoxidase activity in the gastrointestinal mucosa within mouse and rodent models of colitis (standard mean difference -1.26, 95% confidence interval (CI)-1.54 to -0.97, I2=48.1%) and macroscopic disease activity scores (standard mean difference -1.36, 95% CI -1.62 to -1.09, I2=61%). Clinical trials found no overall benefit of cannabinoid drugs in Crohn’s disease (mean difference -74.97, 95% CI –229 to 0.79, I2=75%). Two compounds, cannabidiol and palmitoylethanolamide, possessing positive outcomes and preferable side effect profiles, were put forward for further study to examine potential clinical benefit.

The mechanism of action of palmitoylethanolamide and cannabidiol were explored further by examination of their effects on the immune response, permeability of cultured cell monolayers, intracellular signalling pathways, expression of membrane-bound proteins governing permeability and receptors of the cannabinoid system. We found that these agents were anti-inflammatory in both cultured Caco-2 cells and explant human colonic tissue, prevented increases in permeability secondary to inflammation, and were likely to act through adenylyl cyclase, protein kinase A and extracellular signal-regulated kinases. The downstream effects of these compounds prevented down-regulation of the TRPV1 receptor, upregulation of aquaporin 3 expression, and prevention of downregulation of claudin-3.

The effects of palmitoylethanolamide and cannabidiol were then examined on permeability in the human colon in vivo by means of a double blinded, randomised controlled trial. This study demonstrated that aspirin increased the permeability of the human gut, determined by increases in urinary concentrations of lactulose and D-mannitol, quantified by mass spectrometry. Groups receiving oral cannabidiol or palmitoylethanolamide demonstrated lower urinary concentrations of lactulose and D-mannitol, suggesting that these two drugs could be used clinically to prevent disease-induced hyperpermeability.

In conclusion, cannabidiol and palmitoylethanolamide have shown consistent anti-inflammatory actions in colonic ex vivo and in vitro models, and also prevented increases in intestinal permeability in vitro and also in vivo in a randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled trial. Their clinical use in IBD should now be assessed in phase II clinical trials.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: O'Sullivan, Saoirse
Lund, Jonathan
Keywords: Inflammation; Cannabinoid; Intestine permeability
Subjects: W Medicine and related subjects (NLM Classification) > WI Digestive system
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Medicine
Item ID: 51804
Depositing User: Couch, Daniel
Date Deposited: 10 Sep 2018 13:03
Last Modified: 07 May 2020 16:01

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