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IACM-Bulletin of 31 May 2015

Science/Human: Cannabis use associated with reduced diabetes risk

Cannabis use may have a protective effect against the development of diabetes. This is the conclusion by researchers of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics of Michigan State University in East Lansing, USA, from a meta-analysis of eight large independent studies.

Results show that recently active cannabis smoking and diabetes are inversely associated. The meta-analytic summary odds ratio was 0.7, which means that cannabis use was associated with a 30% reduction of diabetes risk. Authors concluded that “current evidence is too weak for causal inference, but there now is a more stable evidence base for new lines of clinical translational research on a possibly protective (or spurious) cannabis smoking-diabetes mellitus association suggested in prior research.”

Alshaarawy O, Anthony JC. Smoking and Diabetes Mellitus: Results from Meta-analysis with Eight Independent Replication Samples. Epidemiology. 2015 May 14. [in press]

Science/Human: Simultaneous intake of THC and alcohol increases THC concentrations in blood

A study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Baltimore, USA, shows for the first time that the simultaneous use of alcohol and cannabis produces significantly higher blood concentrations of THC than cannabis use alone. Researchers studied 19 adult participants who drank placebo or a moderate dose of alcohol 10 minutes prior to inhaling 500 mg of placebo, low-dose (2.9% THC), or high-dose (6.7% THC) vaporized cannabis.

The researchers found that with no alcohol, the median maximum blood concentrations for low and high THC doses were 32.7 and 42.2 ng/ml THC, respectively. With alcohol, the median maximum blood concentrations for low and high THC doses were 35.3 and 67.5 ng/ml THC, which is significantly higher than without alcohol. A relevant number of participants (16.7%) presented with a positive THC concentration in blood with a concentration of 1 ng/ml or above at 8.3 hours after intake of cannabis.

Hartman RL, Brown TL, Milavetz G, Spurgin A, Gorelick DA, Gaffney G, Huestis MA. Controlled Cannabis Vaporizer Administration: Blood and Plasma Cannabinoids with and without Alcohol. Clin Chem. 2015 May 27. [in press]

News in brief

Science/Human: Early tobacco use associated with psychosis-related symptoms in young adults
In a study with 3752 young adults of about 21 years of age, who were followed since birth, those who started tobacco use at 15 years of age or earlier showed higher rates of hallucinations. This effect was not explained by cannabis use in this group. Authors wrote that “early tobacco use may contribute to the risk of developing psychosis-related outcomes.”
University of Queensland, Australia.
McGrath JJ, et al. Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2015 May 19. [in press]

Science/Human: No association between medical cannabis laws and suicide risk
New research found no statistically significant association between medical cannabis policies in the USA and suicide risk. Researchers wrote that “these results contradict prior analyses which did not control for race/ethnicity and certain state characteristics such as tobacco control policies.”
Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, USA.
Grucza RA, et al. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2015 Apr 30. [in press]

Science: Seven new cannabinoids detected in high potency cannabis
Seven new cannabinoids, mainly belonging to the THC type, were detected and their pharmacological activity investigated. The newly detected compound 10-alpha-hydroxy-delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol was shown to exert the most potent THC-like effects.
School of Pharmacy, The University of Mississippi, USA.
Radwan MM, et al. J Nat Prod. 2015 May 22. [in press]

Science/Animal: Cannabinoids protect nerve cells of the eye’s retina
Research with rats suggests that endogenous and synthetic cannabinoids protect nerve cells in the retina against the toxicity of high amounts of the neurotransmitter AMPA and this effect involves the activation of CB1 receptors.
Department of Pharmacology, School of Medicine, University of Crete, Greece
Kokona D, et al. Exp Eye Res 2015;136:45-58.

Science/Cells: CB2 receptor agonists may be useful in transplant patients
Research with spleen cells supports “the potential of CB2-selective agonists as useful therapeutic agents to prolong graft survival in transplant patients, and strengthens their potential as a new class of immunosuppressive agents with broader applicability.”
Center for Substance Abuse Research, Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, USA.
Robinson RH, et al. J Neuroimmune Pharmacol. 2015 May 16. [in press]

Science/Animal: Endocannabinoids may be helpful in fragile X syndrome
The endocannabinoid anandamide had some positive effects in a mouse model of fragile X syndrome (FXS), a genetic syndrome, which is associated with intellectual disability, social anxiety and often with autism. Researchers wrote that their results indicate that the endocannabinoid system “is involved in FXS and suggest that the eCB system is a promising target for treatment of FXS.”
National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, USA.
Qin M, et al. Behav Brain Res. 2015 May 12. [in press]

Science/Cells: CB1 receptors and anandamide were increased in colon cancer
In human colon cancer tisues the levels of cannabinoid receptor 1 and the endocannabinoid anandamide were increased. Together with the cell compounds ceramides, which were also increased, they “may qualify as potential endogenous biomarkers and novel drug targets for colorectal cancer,” authors wrote.
Department of Medical Sciences, Medical College, Xiamen University, China.
Chen L, et al. Oncol Rep. 2015 May 12. [in press]

Science/Cells: A CB1 receptor antagonist was effective against brain cancer cells
The synthetic CB1 receptor antagonist (blocker) SR141716 induced apoptosis (programmed cell death) in glioma cells (a certain form of brain tumor) and this effect was associated with a high activity to boost competent immune surveillance mechanisms.
Department of Medicine and Surgery, University of Salerno, Italy
Ciaglia E, et al. Oncotarget. 2015 May 11. [in press]

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