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      It Is Our Turn to Get Cannabis High: Put Cannabinoids in Food and Health Baskets

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          Cannabis is an annual plant with a long history of use as food, feed, fiber, oil, medicine, and narcotics. Despite realizing its true value, it has not yet found its true place. Cannabis has had a long history with many ups and downs, and now it is our turn to promote it. Cannabis contains approximately 600 identified and many yet unidentified potentially useful compounds. Cannabinoids, phenolic compounds, terpenoids, and alkaloids are some of the secondary metabolites present in cannabis. However, among a plethora of unique chemical compounds found in this plant, the most important ones are phytocannabinoids (PCs). Over hundreds of 21-22-carbon compounds exclusively produce in cannabis glandular hairs through either polyketide and or deoxyxylulose phosphate/methylerythritol phosphate (DOXP/MEP) pathways. Trans-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are those that first come to mind while talking about cannabis. Nevertheless, despite the low concentration, cannabinol (CBN), cannabigerol (CBG), cannabichromene (CBC), tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), cannabidivarin (CBDV), cannabinodiol (CBND), and cannabinidiol (CBDL) may have potentially some medical effects. PCs and endocannabinoids (ECs) mediate their effects mainly through CB1 and CB2 receptors. Despite all concerns regarding cannabis, nobody can ignore the use of cannabinoids as promising tonic, analgesic, antipyretic, antiemetic, anti-inflammatory, anti-epileptic, anticancer agents, which are effective for pain relief, depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, nausea and vomiting, multiple sclerosis, cardiovascular disorders, and appetite stimulation. The scientific community and public society have now increasingly accepted cannabis specifically hemp as much more than a recreational drug. There are growing demands for cannabinoids, mainly CBD, with many diverse therapeutic and nutritional properties in veterinary or human medicine. The main objective of this review article is to historically summarize findings concerning cannabinoids, mainly THC and CBD, towards putting these valuable compounds into food, feed and health baskets and current and future trends in the consumption of products derived from cannabis.

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          Molecular characterization of a peripheral receptor for cannabinoids.

          The major active ingredient of marijuana, delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta 9-THC), has been used as a psychoactive agent for thousands of years. Marijuana, and delta 9-THC, also exert a wide range of other effects including analgesia, anti-inflammation, immunosuppression, anticonvulsion, alleviation of intraocular pressure in glaucoma, and attenuation of vomiting. The clinical application of cannabinoids has, however, been limited by their psychoactive effects, and this has led to interest in the biochemical bases of their action. Progress stemmed initially from the synthesis of potent derivatives of delta 9-THC, and more recently from the cloning of a gene encoding a G-protein-coupled receptor for cannabinoids. This receptor is expressed in the brain but not in the periphery, except for a low level in testes. It has been proposed that the nonpsychoactive effects of cannabinoids are either mediated centrally or through direct interaction with other, non-receptor proteins. Here we report the cloning of a receptor for cannabinoids that is not expressed in the brain but rather in macrophages in the marginal zone of spleen.
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            Structure of a cannabinoid receptor and functional expression of the cloned cDNA.

            Marijuana and many of its constituent cannabinoids influence the central nervous system (CNS) in a complex and dose-dependent manner. Although CNS depression and analgesia are well documented effects of the cannabinoids, the mechanisms responsible for these and other cannabinoid-induced effects are not so far known. The hydrophobic nature of these substances has suggested that cannabinoids resemble anaesthetic agents in their action, that is, they nonspecifically disrupt cellular membranes. Recent evidence, however, has supported a mechanism involving a G protein-coupled receptor found in brain and neural cell lines, and which inhibits adenylate cyclase activity in a dose-dependent, stereoselective and pertussis toxin-sensitive manner. Also, the receptor is more responsive to psychoactive cannabinoids than to non-psychoactive cannabinoids. Here we report the cloning and expression of a complementary DNA that encodes a G protein-coupled receptor with all of these properties. Its messenger RNA is found in cell lines and regions of the brain that have cannabinoid receptors. These findings suggest that this protein is involved in cannabinoid-induced CNS effects (including alterations in mood and cognition) experienced by users of marijuana.
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              Expression of central and peripheral cannabinoid receptors in human immune tissues and leukocyte subpopulations.

              Two proteins with seven transmembrane-spanning domains typical of guanosine-nucleotide-binding-protein-coupled receptors have been identified as cannabinoid receptors; the central cannabinoid receptor, CB1, and the peripheral cannabinoid receptor, CB2, initially described in rat brain and spleen, respectively. Here, we report the distribution patterns for both CB1 and CB2 transcripts in human immune cells and in several human tissues, as analysed using a highly sensitive and quantitative PCR-based method. CB1 was mainly expressed in the central nervous system and, to a lower extent, in several peripheral tissues such as adrenal gland, heart, lung, prostate, uterus, ovary, testis, bone marrow, thymus and tonsils. In contrast, the CB2 gene, which is not expressed in the brain, was particularly abundant in immune tissues, with an expression level 10-100-fold higher than that of CB1. Although CB2 mRNA was also detected in some other peripheral tissues, its level remained very low. In spleen and tonsils, the CB2 mRNA content was equivalent to that of CB1 mRNA in the central nervous system. Among the main human blood cell subpopulations, the distribution pattern of the CB2 mRNA displayed important variations. The rank order of CB2 mRNA levels in these cells was B-cells > natural killer cells > monocytes > polymorphonuclear neutrophil cells > T8 cells > T4 cells. The same rank order was also established in human cell lines belonging to the myeloid, monocytic and lymphoid lineages. The prevailing expression of the CB2 gene in immune tissues was confirmed by Northern-blot analysis. In addition, the expression of the CB2 protein was demonstrated by an immunohistological analysis performed on tonsil sections using specific anti-(human CB2) IgG; this experiment showed that CB2 expression was restricted to B-lymphocyte-enriched areas of the mantle of secondary lymphoid follicles. These results suggest that (a) CB1 and CB2 can be considered as tissue-selective antigens of the central nervous system and immune system, respectively, and (b) cannabinoids may exert specific receptor-mediated actions on the immune system through the CB2 receptor.

                Author and article information

                04 September 2020
                September 2020
                : 25
                : 18
                [1 ]Faculty of Agricultural Science and Engineering, University of Tehran, Karaj 31587, Iran
                [2 ]Department of Biology, University of Florence, Via Madonna del Piano, 6, Sesto Fiorentino, 50019 Firenze, Italy; federico.martinelli@ 123456unifi.it
                [3 ]Council for Agricultural Research and Economics (CREA), Research Centre for Plant Protection and Certification (CREA-DC), 90011 Bagheria (PA), Italy; antonio.giovino@ 123456crea.gov.it
                [4 ]School of Science, RMIT University, Melbourne, Bundoora, VIC 3083, Australia; ava.bachari@ 123456student.rmit.edu.au (A.B.); nitin.mantri@ 123456rmit.edu.au (N.M.)
                [5 ]School of Plant Sciences, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA; nedaarad@ 123456email.arizona.edu
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence: asalami@ 123456ut.ac.ir ; Tel.: +98-912-542-3816
                © 2020 by the authors.

                Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).



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