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Medicinal cannabis CBD (cannabidiol) May Play a Significant Role During COVID-19 by Reducing Lung Damage With Protective Peptides.
The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to continue for many months. However, in a new study, scientists have shown that medicinal cannabis may potentially treat the symptoms and reduce lung damage caused by COVID-19 by enabling an increase in natural peptide levels.
The scientists from the DCG (Dental College of Georgia) and the Medical College of Georgia proved that CBD could improve our body's oxygen levels and reduce inflammation and prevent physical lung damage related to ARDS (adult respiratory distress syndrome). The new study has now shown the mechanisms behind these results, demonstrating that CBD normalizes a peptide (apelin) levels, known to reduce and prevent inflammation. It is proven that levels of this peptide are low during a COVID-19 infection.
While the scientists say the peptide has a critical role to play, they do not attribute all CBD's benefits to the peptide. The results were published last month in the Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine ( Volume 24, Issue 21 November 2020).
COVID-19 uses its spiky surface proteins to bind to healthy cells' receptors, especially in the lungs. Later proteins distinctively go through ACE2 receptors, and once they have made their way inside, the coronavirus seizes healthy cells and takes over and, in some cases, kills some healthy cells.
CBD (cannabidiol) has a history of safe use and contains many properties that may be useful in treating specific medical symptoms: CBD has anti-inflammatory properties and can act as a vasorelaxant that can reduce pain and anxiety. In combination with other cannabinoids and terpenes and necessary clinical intervention. CBD has much potential to treat the symptoms of a virus such as COVID-19.
CBD has the potential to improve oxygen levels and reduce inflammation, which decreases physical lung damage. Blood levels of apelin, an essential regulator responsible for both, bringing blood pressure and inflammation down. The studies dropped close to zero in the authors' ARDS model and increased 20 times with CBD. When blood pressure gets high, apelin levels should go up to help reduce the pressure. Apelin should do the same to help neutralize and normalize inflammation in the lungs and related breathing problems associated with adult respiratory distress syndrome.
"Ideally, with ARDS, it should increase in areas of the lungs where it has needed to improve oxygen and blood flow to compensate and to protect," Dr. Babak Baban (Dental College of Georgia immunologist) said. However, when they looked at the adult respiratory distress syndrome model, apelin decreased in both the lung tissue and the general circulation. However, this changed when they administered CBD.
The scientists emphasize that they do not yet know whether the novel coronavirus or CBD directly affects apelin or if these are downstream consequences; however, they are already working to find out.
"It is an association but, we do not know yet about causative, but it is an excellent indicator of the disease," said Dr. Babak Baban noticing that the finding of dramatic reductions in apelin in the face of adult respiratory distress syndrome makes levels of the protective peptide a potential early biomarker for ARDS.
The COVID-19 virus enters human cells by pervasive angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2 receptor). Many cell types and tissues have both ACE2 and apelin, including the lungs, with plenty of other common grounds between both.
Apelin and ACE2 usually work together to control blood pressure, and upregulation of both may help cardiovascular disease, including decreasing blood pressure while increasing the heart's ability to pump, causing heart failure.
The COVID-19 virus can bind to the receptor for ACE2, which appears to upset this positive aspect. This decrease ACE2 levels and increase levels of the potent blood vessel constrictor angiotensin II since less angiotensin II get degraded, and fewer vasodilators get produced (chemicals that widen blood vessels).
Next, the research includes a better understanding of CBD and apelin's interaction with the novel coronavirus. That includes why apelin goes down because of the virus and why CBD boosts the levels of apelin.
The scientists will explore how eliminating apelin affects ARDS, and if CBD causes the same benefit to the lungs without apelin. The researchers note that it is likely the virus suppresses something that suppresses apelin, and CBD interferes with this process. However, they also doubt if the apelin-CBD interaction is the only way the CBD compound works in this and different scenarios.
The researchers developed a safe, relatively inexpensive ARDS model using a synthetic analog of double-stranded RNA called POLY (I: C) to carry out the studies. Unlike human DNA (single-stranded), the novel coronavirus is double-stranded RNA. The model produced extreme lung damage and the "cytokine storm" that shows an over the top immune response from the lungs.
In studies, a control group received intranasal saline for three days while the other (COVID-19 model) received POLY (I: C) for three days, a third group received POLY (I: C) and CBD in the same timeframe. The researchers found that reduced apelin levels in the mice can develop COVID-like symptoms compared to controls. Also, they prove that treatment with CBD normalized the immune response along with oxygen levels, swelling, and apelin levels in the lungs.
The authors note that apelin has various marks in different places and that its levels are mostly measurable in the lungs, one of the reasons it should be a useful biomarker.
Another new approach currently is being developed in Israel by using cell therapy treatment, which uses CBD-loaded exosomes to treat patients infected with COVID-19.