A newly published study has found that CBD can significantly increase production of a peptide that may help protect the lungs of COVID-19 patients from damage.
Dental College of Georgia and Medical College of Georgia researchers reported earlier in the year about CBD’s ability to improve oxygen levels and reduce inflammation as well as physical lung damage in their laboratory model of deadly adult respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS.
Now, according to a new study in the Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, researchers have discovered that levels of a peptide called apelin are significantly reduced by the viral infection, and that CBD can quickly help normalize those levels along with lung function.
Apelin is a pervasive peptide made by cells in the heart, lung, brain, fat tissue and blood, and is an important regulator in bringing both blood pressure and inflammation down. When our blood pressure gets high, for example, apelin levels should go up in the right place, like endothelial cells that line blood vessels, to help bring it down. Apelin should do the same to help normalize the significant increases in inflammation in the lungs and related breathing difficulties associated with ARDS.
During tests, blood levels of the peptide dropped close to zero in the researchers’ ARDS model and increased 20 times when treated with CBD.
“Ideally with ARDS it [apelin] would increase in areas of the lungs where it’s needed to improve blood and oxygen flow to compensate and to protect,” says Dr. Babak Baban, DCG immunologist and associate dean for research. But when they looked at their ARDS model, apelin didn’t do either, and instead decreased in both the lung tissue itself and the general circulation, until they administered CBD.
They reported this summer in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research that treatment with CBD reduced excessive lung inflammation, enabling improvements in lung function, heathier oxygen levels, and repair of some of the structural damage to the lungs that are classic with ARDS. The investigators state that more work was needed, including finding how CBD produced the significant changes as well as human trials, before it should be included as part of a treatment regimen for COVID-19.
While the researchers don’t attribute all CBD’s benefits to apelin, they say the peptide clearly has an important role in this scenario. They also don’t yet know whether the novel coronavirus, or CBD for that matter, have a direct effect on apelin, or if these are downstream consequences, but they are already pursuing answers to those unknowns.
“It is an association; we don’t know yet about causative, but it is a very good indicator of the disease,” Baban says of the bottom line impact of the viral infection on apelin levels.
The new finding was the first step in learning more about how CBD produces the beneficial effects the team saw in their model of ARDS. Next steps will include better understanding the interaction between CBD, apelin and the novel coronavirus including why apelin goes down in the face of the virus and why CBD brings it up. That includes exploring how eliminating apelin affects ARDS and if CBD produces the same lung benefit without apelin.
The team surmise that the COVID virus suppresses something that in turn suppresses apelin, and that CBD interferes. But they doubt the apelin-CBD interaction is the only way the compound, the second most prevalent found in the marijuana plant, works in this and other scenarios.
Source | Eurekalert.org