Cannabis increases inflammation in the brain

    31 July 2019

    Increasing endocannabinoids in the brain may cause inflammation in specific areas such as the cerebellum, which is associated with problems of fine motor coordination, according to new research by Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona.

    The results of the study in mice are contrary to what had been observed to date in other areas of the brain where endocannabinoids play an anti-inflammatory role. The article has been published in Brain Behavior and Immunity.

    The endocannabinoid system is involved in many physiological brain functions, including motor coordination. This system is modulated by cannabinoid acquired both externally from the cannabis plant, and endogenously, that which is naturally produced by the body.

    The results of the new study shows that in the cerebellum the opposite occurs from in the rest of the brain because increasing endocannabinoids increases inflammation, and this leads to motor coordination problems in rodents.

    To modulate the levels of endocannabinoids in the mice, the scientists use degradation inhibitors thus causing the latter to accumulate. They specifically inhibited the enzyme monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL), which is responsible for degrading endocannabinoid 2AG.

    Sara Martínez-Torres, the study’s first author, said: “Our experiments show that the pharmacological or genetic inhibition of MAGL results in significant deficits in motor coordination and increases inflammation. We have seen that this inflammation in the cerebellum is caused by an increase in the COX2 enzyme, which is induced during inflammatory processes and produces proinflammatory mediators.”