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2023-02-18| R&D

Scientists Uncover More Evidence of CBD’s Effect on Epileptic Seizures in Children

by Nai Ye Yeat
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A research team from NYU Grossman School of Medicine recently identified a new way in which cannabidiol, or CBD, reduces seizures in children who suffer from various treatment-resistant forms of epilepsy. 

Published online on February 13 in the journal Neuron, the study revealed that CBD blocked signals carried by a molecule called lysophosphatidylinositol (LPI). LPI, usually found in neurons, is thought to amplify nerve signals as part of normal function, while scientists think excess amplification promotes seizures. 

Related Article: Glowing Yeast and CBD; Biosensing at Boston College

The Positive Feedback Loop to Induce Seizures 

Neurons communicate with each other by “firing” to send an electrical pulse. The electrical impulse is sent from the dendrites to the soma and down the axon to the end of the cell before the synapse, which is the junction between neurons. This chain reaction triggers the release of neurotransmitters that diffuse through the gap and carry a message to either encourage the next cell to fire or stop it from doing so. 

A balance between these two states is essential to brain function. Too much excitation will lead to seizures. 

The scientists proposed that CBD blocks a “positive feedback loop” in the brain. To confirm their hypothesis, the team used rodent models to explore the mechanisms behind seizures. While LPI causes nerve signal amplification, it also weakens signals that counter seizures, encouraging more seizures. The levels of LPI and the protein called G-coupled receptor 55, or GPR55, on neuron cell surfaces, increase, and the cycle continues.

Using genetically engineered mice that lack GPR55, or treating mice with plant-derived CBD before seizure-inducing stimuli, blocked LPI-mediated effects on both excitatory and inhibitory synaptic transmission.

CBD’s Potential in Seizure Control

This process could explain repeated epileptic seizures, although the area requires more studies. In addition to seizures, circuit imbalances are also present in autism and schizophrenia, increasing the finding’s potential. LPI could also serve as a biomarker of seizures or a predictor of clinical responsiveness to CBD, providing insights for future research.

Moreover, the signaling network revealed also includes “endocannabinoids” such as 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) that occur naturally in human tissues and respond to increases in brain activity by turning down the release of neurotransmitters from neurons.  As LPI and 2-AG can be converted into each other by enzymes, targeting this process could be an additional approach to control seizures. 

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