LA JOLLA, Calif. (CBS) — A new study reveals that compounds found in marijuana helps remove plaque buildup of Alzheimer’s disease proteins from brain cells.
According to Popular Science, researchers from Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, took lab-grown human neurons and altered them to create plaque buildup. The researchers then subjected the neurons to THC and other marijuana compounds.
They found that the THC caused a breakdown of the protein buildup and reduced inflammation in the cells.
“Although other studies have offered evidence that cannabinoids might be neuroprotective against the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, we believe our study is the first to demonstrate that cannabinoids affect both inflammation and amyloid beta accumulation in nerve cells,” Salk Professor David Schubert, the paper’s senior author, told Popular Science in a statement.
The study was the first of its kind to test THC against plaque buildup of the brain from Alzheimer’s.
Researchers told Popular Science that they believe the THC reduced the plaque buildup and inflammation by working in the brain’s endocannabinoid receptors. In a previous study while testing a new drug, those receptors helped with the removal of buildup and inflammation.
“Inflammation within the brain is a major component of the damage associated with Alzheimer’s disease, but it has always been assumed that this response was coming from immune-like cells in the brain, not the nerve cells themselves,” Antonio Currais, a postdoctoral researcher in Schubert’s laboratory, told Medical Express. “When we were able to identify the molecular basis of the inflammatory response to amyloid beta, it became clear that THC-like compounds that the nerve cells make themselves may be involved in protecting the cells from dying.”