Skip to content

You are here:Home arrow Health and Medical arrow Diseases and Conditions arrow Alzheimers arrow Marijuana May Slow Progression of Alzheimer's Disease
Marijuana May Slow Progression of Alzheimer's Disease E-mail
Written by Administrator   

New evidence in rats suggests that marijuana may contain compounds that slow the memory loss associated with Alzheimer's disease . Marijuana has strong anti-inflammatory effects, and many researchers believe that there is a compelling link between chronic inflammation and the progression of Alzheimer's.

"Inflammation in the brain is part of aging," Wenk said. "It happens to almost all of us as we age. But in some cases, this inflammation gets out of hand and causes serious damage."

Treatment with a synthetic compound similar to marijuana reduced inflammation in older rats in addition to making the animals "smarter," said Wenk, who is also a professor of neuroscience and molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics.

"The compound substantially improved the memories of the older rats," he said. "These animals were able to hold on to key details of a specific task. Untreated older rats, on the other hand, were not."

Evidence suggests that people who regularly smoked marijuana in the 1960s and 1970s rarely develop Alzheimer's disease, said Wenk, adding that researchers are eager to develop a drug with the anti-inflammatory properties of marijuana, but without the drug's psychoactive effects.

The colleagues treated young and old rats with WIN-55212-2 (WIN), a synthetic drug similar to marijuana. While the compound improved memory and helped to control inflammation, it is not a candidate for use in humans because it still contains substances that could trigger a high.

"We don't use marijuana in our experiments because we're trying to find a compound that isn't psychoactive," Wenk said. "And using synthetic compounds may eventually help us to separate the beneficial effects from the psychoactive effects."

The researchers inserted a small tube into the brain of each rat. The tubes were kept in place for three weeks to allow for periodic infusion of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) a material that stimulates an immune reaction. LPS triggers a reaction that mimics the inflammation found in Alzheimer's patients.

Some of the rats were also treated with WIN daily for those three weeks.

The animals were subjected to a memory test during the third week of treatment. They navigated a water maze that requires finding an escape platform hidden just below the surface of opaque water. The rats were given several opportunities over three days to acclimate to the water maze. On the fourth day, the researchers timed how quickly each rat found the platform.

"The maze task is sensitive to memory impairment and also to aging," Wenk said. "Old rats tend to be pretty bad at navigating the maze. It's kind of like an elderly person trying to find his way around a house that he's not familiar with.

Once the testing was complete, the researchers began to examine the animals' brains for signs of inflammation - they looked for certain kinds of immune cells that are typically found in large quantities in the brains of former Alzheimer's patients.

They found that the marijuana-like compound decreased inflammation in the brains of young and old rats, and that the treated animals in both age groups could find the platform in the water faster than the non-treated animals.

But the most noticeable difference was between the treated and non-treated older rats.

"The compound significantly improved the older rats' memories," Wenk said. "They found the platform faster, suggesting that they were less apt to forget key information for this task. It's a pretty good prediction of how a human would respond to this drug."

Younger rats treated with the compound found the escape platform faster than non-treated younger rats did. However, the difference wasn't as remarkable as that of the older group, possibly due to the lack of age-related changes in the brains of the younger rats.

"Older rats have impaired spatial memory, due to the effect of aging on the brain," Wenk said.

Wenk conducted this work with Ohio State colleagues Yannick Marchalant and Francesca Cerbai, both postdoctoral researchers in psychology, and Holly Brothers, a graduate student in psychology.

This ongoing work is supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.

About Alzheimer's Disease 

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a slowly progressive disease of the brain that is characterized by impairment of memory and eventually by disturbances in reasoning, planning, language, and perception. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia, which afflicts 24 million people worldwide. Alzheimer's disease is not a normal part of aging and is not something that inevitably happens in later life. It is rarely seen before the age of 65. The likelihood of having Alzheimer's disease increases substantially after the age of 70 and may affect around 50% of persons over the age of 85.  

< Prev   Next >

 Contact Our News Editors

  • For any corrections of factual information, or to contact the editors please use our feedback form.
  • Please send any medical, health, fitness or anti-aging news press releases to: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it  
  Back to Front Page
 List of all Health and Medical Sections






A to Z Health:
Allergies | Alzheimers | Anxiety | Arthritis | Asthma | Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) | Autism | Auto-Immune Disorders | Bird Flu | Bladder Cancer | Bone Disease | Brain Tumor Breast Cancer | Cardiovascular Disease | Cervical Cancer | Cholesterol (HDL, LDL) | Chronic Fatigue Syndrome | Cold and Flu | Colitis | Colon Cancer | Colorectal Cancer | Crohn's Disease Cystic Fibrosis | Dementia | Depression | Diabetes | Eczema | Endometrial Cancer | Erectile Dysfunction | Esophageal Cancer | Eye Disease | Fibromyalgia | Gastrointestinal Problems | Hair Loss Headaches (e.g., migraines, sinus, etc.) | Head and Neck | Hearing Loss | Heartburn | Heart Disease | Hormone Disorders | Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) | Infectious Diseases | Joint Pain Kidney Cancer | Kidney Disease | Leukemia | Liver Cancer | Liver Disease | Lung Cancer | Lung Disease | Lymphoma | Melanoma | Mesothelioma | Migraines | Multiple Sclerosis | Obesity Obessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) | Osteoporosis | Ovarian Cancer | Pancreatic Cancer | Parkinson’s Disease | Pediatric Cancer | Prostate Cancer | Prostate Health | Psoriasis | Respiratory Ailments | Sarcoma | Skin Cancer | Skin Diseases & Conditions | Sleep Disorders | Stomach Cancer | Stress | Stroke | Testicular Cancer | Thyroid Cancer | Thyroid Disease | Urology/Renal

Visitors: 25783828
Copyright © 2007 - 2018 Muscle Mag Fitness | Muscle, Fitness and Health Resource All rights reserved. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of Muscle Mag Fitness terms of service.
Designed by: