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CBD And Covid

CBD Helps Reduce Lung Damage From COVID

CBD appears to diminish the “cytokine storm” that destroys the lungs and kills many COVID-19 patients by allowing an increase in levels of apelin, a natural peptide that reduces inflammation and whose levels are substantially lowered in the face of this storm.

Researchers from the Dental College of Georgia and the Medical College of Georgia revealed this summer that CBD improved oxygen levels, reduced inflammation, and reduced physical lung damage in a lab model of the deadly adult respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS. They’ve now demonstrated that apelin levels plummet as a result of the viral illness, which has killed over a million people globally, and that CBD swiftly restores those levels, as well as lung function.

Dr Babak Baban, DCG immunologist and assistant dean for research, describes the shift in apelin levels in both circulating blood and lung tissue as “dramatic in both directions.”

They report in the Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine that blood levels of the peptide plummeted close to zero in their ARDS model and surged 20 times with CBD. Dr Jack Yu, physician-scientist and chief of paediatric plastic surgery at MCG, says of the apparent initial link between CBD and apelin, “CBD almost brought it back to a normal level.”


Reducing Inflammation With CBD

According to Baban, the study’s corresponding author, apelin is a ubiquitous peptide produced by cells in the heart, lung, brain, adipose tissue, and blood, and it is a crucial regulator in lowering blood pressure and inflammation.

When our blood pressure rises, apelin levels should rise in the proper places, such as the endothelial cells that line our blood arteries, to help lower it. To help regulate the large elevations in inflammation in the lungs and attendant breathing difficulties associated with ARDS, Apelin should accomplish the same.

“Ideally with ARDS it would increase in areas of the lungs where it’s needed to improve blood and oxygen flow to compensate and to protect,” Baban explains. However, apelin did not do either in their ARDS model and instead reduced in both the lung tissue and the general circulation. Until CBD was given.

Treatment with CBD reduced excessive lung inflammation, allowing improvements in lung function, healthier oxygen levels, and healing of some of the structural damage to the lungs that is typical of ARDS, according to a study published this summer in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.

The researchers concluded that more research was needed, including determining how CBD caused the dramatic alterations as well as human trials before it could be incorporated in a COVID-19 treatment regimen.

They have now linked those gains to apelin regulation. While they don’t ascribe all of CBD’s effects to apelin, they do claim that the peptide plays a key role in this scenario. They also don’t know whether the novel coronavirus, or CBD for that matter, has a direct influence on apelin, or if these are downstream effects, but they’re working on finding out. “It is an association; we don’t know yet about causative, but it is a very good indicator of the disease,”


ACE2 Receptor

The now-familiar spiking virus penetrates human cells via the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor, which is likewise widely distributed. “The spike proteins have just the right docking mechanism,” adds Yu, a co-author on the study. There is a lot of overlap between ACE2 and apelin, including the fact that both are found in numerous cell types and tissues, including the lungs.


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Upregulation of both Apelin and ACE2, which normally operate together to control blood pressure, may be beneficial in cardiovascular disease, particularly heart failure, by lowering blood pressure while enhancing the heart’s pumping function. In reality, apelin and ACE2 work together to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system, and they are involved in pretty much any disorder that harms the cardiovascular system, such as obesity or hypertension, according to Baban.

The novel coronavirus, like other diseases, appears to be upsetting their harmonious relationship. Because less angiotensin II is destroyed and fewer vasodilators are created when the virus binds to the ACE2 receptor, it lowers ACE2 levels and raises levels of the potent blood vessel constrictor angiotensin II, worsening the patient’s prognosis.

“Instead of ACE2 helping blood vessels relax, it helps the virus get into the host where it makes more virus instead of helping the lungs relax and do their job,” Yu explains. Reduced levels of ACE2 appear to enable less apelin and less protection, however, the researchers are still piecing together the puzzle.

Their discovery of substantial apelin reductions in the face of ARDS, they believe, makes levels of the protective peptide a possible early biomarker for ARDS and response to treatment attempts.


CBD As A Natural Apelin Agonist

The new discovery was the first step toward knowing more about how CBD creates the positive effects seen in their ARDS model. The next step is to learn more about the interplay between CBD, apelin, and the novel coronavirus, such as why apelin drops in the face of the virus and why CBD raises it. This includes determining how apelin deficiency impacts ARDS and whether CBD has the same lung effect without apelin.

According to the researchers, the virus reduces something that suppresses apelin, and CBD interferes. They do not believe, however, that the apelin-CBD interaction is the only way the molecule, which is the second most abundant in marijuana plants, operates in this and other situations.

The tests were made possible by the researchers’ creation of a safe and very inexpensive model of ARDS using POLY, a synthetic analogue of double-stranded RNA (I:C). Because the novel coronavirus has double-stranded RNA, but ours is single-stranded, this analogue elicited a similar reaction to the virus, including severe lung damage that necessitates the use of a ventilator and other life-saving measures in patients, and is a leading cause of death. The result, similar to the SARS-CoV-2 infection, is a “cytokine storm,” which represents an exaggerated immune response in the lungs, resulting in an assault rather than protection.


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In these investigations, the COVID-19 model received POLY (I:C) intranasally for three days while the control group received intranasal saline for three days. POLY (I:C) and CBD were given to a third group, the therapy group, over the same time period.

They examined again and discovered considerably lower apelin levels in COVID-like symptoms animals as compared to controls. CBD treatment improved immunological response, apelin levels, oxygen levels, lung oedema and scarring, all of which are symptoms of the dangerous ARDS.


Yu’s Opinion

According to Yu, “The apelinergic system is a very, very ubiquitous signalling system.” While it serves a variety of functions in various locations and levels fluctuate depending on what is required, it is continuously quantifiable in the lungs, which is one of the reasons it should be a good biomarker, and it is also typically considered protective, according to the researchers.

Among Apelin’s many responsibilities is ensuring that the placenta receives adequate blood supply as well as the oxygen and nutrients it transports during pregnancy. Dr. Évila Lopes Salles, a postdoctoral associate with Baban in the DCG Department of Oral Biology and the study’s first author, was looking at the peptide’s considerable influence in gestation and evident anti-inflammatory role when DCG and MCG investigators decided to dig into it, according to Baban.

Synthetic agonists that boost apelin levels exist and are showing promise in the laboratory for cardiovascular illness, including reducing the rate of aneurysm formation. According to the study, CBD appears to be a natural apelin agonist.

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