A team of Stony Brook University researchers have identified fatty acid binding proteins (FABPs) as intracellular transporters for two ingredients in marijuana, THC and CBD (cannabidiol). The finding, published early online in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, is significant because it helps explain how CBD works within the cells. Recent clinical findings have shown that CBD may help reduce seizures and could be a potential new medicine to treat pediatric treatment-resistant epilepsy.
CBD differs from THC in that it is not psychoactive and does not bind to cannabinoid receptors. Some children who are resistant to conventional antiepileptic drugs have been reported to show improvement with oral CBD treatment. The Stony Brook research team found that three brain FABPs carry THC and CBD from the cell membrane to the interior of the cell. This action enabled them to conduct experiments inhibiting FABPs and thereby reducing anandamide breakdown inside the cells.
"Anandamide, an endocannabinoid, has been shown to have neuroprotective effects against seizures in basic research studies and this may turn out to be a key mechanism of seizure control," explained Dale Deutsch, PhD, Professor of Biochemistry and Cell Biology and a faculty member of the Institute of Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery at Stony Brook University. "Therefore by CBD inhibiting FABPs, we could potentially raise the levels of anandamide in the brain's synapses."