Cannabidiol May Improve Ability to Deliver Medication Through Blood-Brain Barrier

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Study finds cannabidiol may act as a Trojan horse to transport molecules into the brain.

Although cannabidiol (CBD) has recently been touted for its ability to treat conditions such as anxiety and epilepsy, it may also allow researchers to slip medications through the blood-brain barrier to treat a variety of conditions.

In a study published in Molecular Pharmaceutics, the investigators attached CBD to the outer surface of lipid nanocapsules. They noted that CBD is similar to the endocannabinoids made by both mice and humans. The investigators loaded the nanocapsules with a fluorescent molecule instead of medication to allow them to track the particles.

The blood-brain barrier is comprised of a layer of tightly-linked cells lining the capillaries in the brain, which blocks substances from exiting the blood and entering the brain. The study authors noted that the barrier does allow certain molecules to pass, including glucose and some amino acids and neurotransmitters.

Endocannabinoids, a type of neurotransmitter, bind to cannabinoid receptors in the blood-brain barrier, which helps transport molecules into the brain, according to the study. As a result of this finding, the researchers sought to use this system to transport nanocarriers into the brains of mice.

Using human brain cells that imitate the blood-brain barrier, the study authors were able to demonstrate that nanocarriers with CBD allowed more of the fluorescent molecule to pass through the barrier than equally-sized nanocarriers that lacked CBD. Furthermore, after being injected into healthy mice, the nanocapsules with CBD delivered approximately 2.5 times more of the fluorescent molecule to their brains, according to the study.

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