Non-Psychoactive Cannabinoid Staves Blindness Associated With Diabetes, Study Says

Augusta, GA: Administration of the non-psychoactive cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) prevents retinal cell death in the diabetic retina, and may one day prevent blindness in diabetic patients, according to preclinical data published in the current issue of the American Journal of Pathology.

Researchers at the Medical College of Virginia, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, investigated the protective effects of CBD in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats after one, two, or four weeks.

“Experimental diabetes induced significant increases in oxidative stress, retinal neuronal cell death, and vascular permeability,” investigators wrote. “CBD treatment significantly reduced oxidative stress, decreased … vascular endothelial growth, … and prevented retinal cell death. … These results demonstrate that CBD treatment reduced neurotoxicity, inflammation, and blood-retinal barrier (BRB) breakdown in diabetic animals.”

Diabetic retinopathy, which is characterized by retinal oxygen deprivation and a breakdown of the blood-retinal barrier, affects approximately 16 million Americans and is the leading cause of blindness in working-age adults.

Previous studies have shown CBD to prevent against neurotoxicity associated with stroke, cerebral infarction (localized cell death in the brain), and ethanol-induced brain damage. Clinical trials have also shown CBD to possess anti-tumoral properties – inhibiting the growth of glioma (brain tumor) cells in a dose dependent manner and selectively inducing apoptosis (programmed cell death) in malignant cells.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at (202) 483-5500. Full text of the study, “Neuroprotective and blood-retinal barrier-preserving effects of cannabidiol in experimental diabetes,” appears in the January issue the American Journal of Pathology.