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Papers: 29 Jun 2024 - 5 Jul 2024

2024 Jul 02

J Pharmacol Exp Ther


Δ 9 -Tetrahydrocannabinol alleviates hyperalgesia in a humanized mouse model of sickle cell disease


Mabou Tagne A, Fotio Y, Gupta K, Piomelli D


People with sickle cell disease (SCD) often experience chronic pain as well as unpredictable episodes of acute pain, which significantly affect their quality of life and life expectancy. Current treatment strategies for SCD-associated pain primarily rely on opioid analgesics, which have limited efficacy and cause serious adverse effects. Cannabis has emerged as a potential alternative, yet its efficacy remains uncertain. In this study, we investigated the antinociceptive effects of Δ-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabis’ intoxicating constituent, in male HbSS mice, which express >99% human sickle hemoglobin, and male HbAA mice, which express normal human hemoglobin A, as a control. Acute THC administration (0.1-3 mg-kg, intraperitoneal, i.p.) dose-dependently reduced mechanical and cold hypersensitivity in HbSS, but not HbAA mice. In the tail-flick assay, THC (1 and 3 mg-kg, i.p.) produced substantial antinociceptive effects in HbSS mice. By contrast, THC (1 mg-kg, i.p.) did not alter anxiety-like behavior (elevated plus maze) or long-term memory (24-h novel object recognition). Subchronic THC treatment (1 and 3 mg-kg, i.p.) provided sustained relief of mechanical hypersensitivity but led to tolerance in cold hypersensitivity in HbSS mice. Together, the findings identify THC as a possible therapeutic option for the management of chronic pain in SCD. Further research is warranted to elucidate its mechanism of action and possible interaction with other cannabis constituents. The study explores THC’s efficacy in alleviating pain in sickle cell disease (SCD) using a humanized mouse model. Findings indicate that acute THC administration reduces mechanical and cold hypersensitivity in SCD mice without impacting emotional and cognitive dysfunction. Subchronic THC treatment offers sustained relief of mechanical hypersensitivity but leads to cold hypersensitivity tolerance. These results offer insights into THC’s potential as an alternative pain management option in SCD, highlighting both its benefits and limitations.