An interesting new study published in this month’s issue of the journal Basic Research in Cardiology has found that the endocannabinoid system plays a key role in protecting the body in the early development of ischemic cardiomyopathy, indicating that cannabis, which regulates and activates the body’s cannabinoid receptors, may provide a potential treatment option for the condition.
Ischemic cardiomyopathy, which is inadequate oxygen delivery to the myocardium (the heart muscle), is most commonly caused by coronary artery disease and can lead to heart failure.
According to the study; “Ischemic heart disease is associated with inflammation, interstitial fibrosis and ventricular dysfunction prior to the development of heart failure. Endocannabinoids and the cannabinoid receptor CB2 have been claimed to be involved, but their potential role in cardioprotection is not well understood. We therefore explored the role of the cannabinoid receptor CB2 during the initial phase of ischemic cardiomyopathy development prior to the onset of ventricular dysfunction or infarction.”
For the study, researchers at the University Clinical Centre Bonn’s Department of Cardiac Surgery used CB2 [cannabinoid receptor type 2]-deficient mice, which “underwent daily brief, repetitive ischemia and reperfusion (I/R) episodes leading to ischemic cardiomyopathy. The relevance of the endocannabinoid-CB2 receptor axis was underscored by the finding that CB2 was upregulated in ischemic wild type cardiomyocytes and that anandamide level was transiently increased during I/R.”
Researchers found that; “CB2-deficient mice showed an increased rate of apoptosis, irreversible loss of cardiomyocytes and persistent left ventricular dysfunction 60 days after the injury, whereas wild type mice presented neither morphological nor functional defects. These defects were due to lack of cardiomyocyte protection mechanisms, as CB2-deficient hearts were in contrast to controls unable to induce switch in myosin heavy chain isoforms, antioxidative enzymes and chemokine CCL2 during repetitive I/R. In addition, a prolonged inflammatory response and adverse myocardial remodeling were found in CB2-deficient hearts because of postponed activation of the M2a macrophage subpopulation.”
Having discovered this, researcher conclude; “Therefore, the endocannabinoid-CB2 receptor axis plays a key role in cardioprotection during the initial phase of ischemic cardiomyopathy development.”
The study, which was published online by the U.S. National Institute of Health, can be found by clicking here.