A non-psychoactive compound derived from marijuana could potentially be developed into new anti-nausea treatments for cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, suggests research in rats published in eNeuro. The study represents an advance in understanding the neurobiology of this distressing symptom that accompanies vomiting but is not effectively treated by current drugs.
Linda Parker and colleagues observed a surge in levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the rat interoceptive insular cortex (IIC) -- a brain region responsible for nausea in humans -- following injection with the nauseating chemical compound lithium chloride. This increase in serotonin and subsequent gaping behavior (a behavior displayed by rodents to flavors paired with a nauseating treatments) was prevented by treatment with cannabidiol -- a form of cannabis that does not contain the component found in recreational marijuana responsible for the drug's psychotropic effects. Treatment with a drug that elevates the endogenous cannabinoid, 2-AG, also prevented the elevation of serotonin in the IIC by activating the cannabinoid type 1 receptor. These findings implicate the endocannabinoid system and IIC serotonin release in the sensation of nausea, opening up new therapeutic opportunities to explore in future research.
Article: Nausea-induced 5-HT release in the interoceptive insular cortex and regulation by monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL) inhibition and cannabidiol DOI: https://doi.org/10.1523/ENEURO.0256-18.2018 Corresponding author: Linda Parker (University of Guelph, Canada), firstname.lastname@example.org or (519) 400-2909
eNeuro, the Society for Neuroscience's open-access journal launched in 2014, publishes rigorous neuroscience research with double-blind peer review that masks the identity of both the authors and reviewers, minimizing the potential for implicit biases. eNeuro is distinguished by a broader scope and balanced perspective achieved by publishing negative results, failure to replicate or replication studies. New research, computational neuroscience, theories and methods are also published.
About The Society for Neuroscience
The Society for Neuroscience is the world's largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 37,000 members in more than 90 countries and over 130 chapters worldwide.