Expert on Hemp/Cannabis policy, ex member of the Croatian Ministry of Health regulatory commission for medical cannabis, Ilesol Pharmaceuticals' CEO
Diabetic cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a prevalent cardiovascular complication arising from diabetes, characterized by cardiac dysfunction, fibrosis, oxidative stress, inflammation, and increased cell death. The study investigates the potential therapeutic effects of cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive compound derived from the Cannabis plant, on DCM in a rat model of type 1 diabetes.
The authors induced diabetes in male Wistar rats by administering streptozotocin (STZ), a substance that selectively destroys pancreatic beta cells. Rats were then treated with CBD (1, 10 and 20 mg/kg daily), for 4-11 weeks. Echocardiography was used to assess cardiac function, while oxidative stress, inflammation, and fibrosis were assessed using biochemical assays and histological analysis.
Treatment with CBD led to significant improvements in cardiac function, demonstrated by a decrease in left ventricular end-diastolic diameter (LVEDD). Additionally, the study found reduced oxidative stress, evident by lower levels of malondialdehyde (MDA) and 8-isoprostane, and increased activity of antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase.
CBD treatment also reduced cardiac fibrosis, as indicated by decreased collagen deposition and reduced expression of fibrotic markers like transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β) and connective tissue growth factor (CTGF). Furthermore, the study observed reduced inflammation, evidenced by lower levels of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1). The CBD-treated group exhibited reduced cell death, as demonstrated by a decrease in caspase-3 activity and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labelling (TUNEL) staining.
The findings of this study suggest that CBD may have potential therapeutic effects in attenuating cardiac dysfunction, oxidative stress, fibrosis, inflammation, and cell death in diabetic cardiomyopathy. The authors hypothesize that these beneficial effects may be due to the activation of various intracellular signalling pathways, such as the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt pathway, which is involved in the regulation of cell survival, metabolism, and proliferation.
Despite the promising results, some limitations should be noted. First, the study was conducted in a rat model of type 1 diabetes, which may not directly translate to human patients or type 2 diabetes. Second, the exact molecular mechanisms underlying CBD’s cardioprotective effects were not fully elucidated, warranting further investigation. Lastly, the long-term safety and efficacy of CBD in treating DCM remain unknown, necessitating more extensive studies.