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Home News Brain Immune System Uses Marijuana

Brain Immune System Uses Marijuana

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A naturally occurring substance that resembles the active ingredient in marijuana is used by the brain's immune system to protect neurons, the cells that transmit information between the brain and body, from inflammation after an injury, a study has shown.

The study, which appears in tomorrow's issue of the journal Neuron, could lead to the development of drugs to treat brain inflammation and degeneration from multiple sclerosis and other disorders, according to the researchers led by Oliver Ullrich and others at the Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg in Magdeburg, Germany.
The researchers analyzed brain tissue from people with multiple sclerosis and found elevated levels of a marijuana-like substance called anandamide. They also chemically induced brain damage in studies with mouse brain slices and found an increase in anandamide levels. When they blocked the anandamide from reaching the cells, the inflammatory damage increased.

The role the marijuana-like substance plays in the brain's immune system is separate from the effect that cannabinoid, marijuana's active ingredient, can have on neuronal signaling, which results in the behavior changes associated with the drug, the study said.

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