Publications by authors named "Marie Woolley-Roberts"

5 Publications

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Cannabidivarin Treatment Ameliorates Autism-Like Behaviors and Restores Hippocampal Endocannabinoid System and Glia Alterations Induced by Prenatal Valproic Acid Exposure in Rats.

Front Cell Neurosci 2019 9;13:367. Epub 2019 Aug 9.

Department of Biotechnology and Life Sciences, University of Insubria, Varese, Italy.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental condition whose primary features include social communication and interaction impairments with restricted or repetitive motor movements. No approved treatment for the core symptoms is available and considerable research efforts aim at identifying effective therapeutic strategies. Emerging evidence suggests that altered endocannabinoid signaling and immune dysfunction might contribute to ASD pathogenesis. In this scenario, phytocannabinoids could hold great pharmacological potential due to their combined capacities to act either directly or indirectly on components of the endocannabinoid system and to modulate immune functions. Among all plant-cannabinoids, the phytocannabinoid cannabidivarin (CBDV) was recently shown to reduce motor impairments and cognitive deficits in animal models of Rett syndrome, a condition showing some degree of overlap with autism, raising the possibility that CBDV might have therapeutic potential in ASD. Here, we investigated the ability of CBDV treatment to reverse or prevent ASD-like behaviors in male rats prenatally exposed to valproic acid (VPA; 500 mg/kg i.p.; gestation day 12.5). The offspring received CBDV according to two different protocols: symptomatic (0.2/2/20/100 mg/kg i.p.; postnatal days 34-58) and preventative (2/20 mg/kg i.p.; postnatal days 19-32). The major efficacy of CBDV was observed at the dose of 20 mg/kg for both treatment schedules. CBDV in symptomatic rats recovered social impairments, social novelty preference, short-term memory deficits, repetitive behaviors and hyperlocomotion whereas preventative treatment reduced sociability and social novelty deficits, short-term memory impairments and hyperlocomotion, without affecting stereotypies. As dysregulations in the endocannabinoid system and neuroinflammatory markers contribute to the development of some ASD phenotypes in the VPA model, neurochemical studies were performed after symptomatic treatment to investigate possible CBDV's effects on the endocannabinoid system, inflammatory markers and microglia activation in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. Prenatal VPA exposure increased CB1 receptor, FAAH and MAGL levels, enhanced GFAP, CD11b, and TNFα levels and triggered microglia activation restricted to the hippocampus. All these alterations were restored after CBDV treatment. These data provide preclinical evidence in support of the ability of CBDV to ameliorate behavioral abnormalities resembling core and associated symptoms of ASD. At the neurochemical level, symptomatic CBDV restores hippocampal endocannabinoid signaling and neuroinflammation induced by prenatal VPA exposure.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fncel.2019.00367DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6696797PMC
August 2019

Cannabidiol improves vocal learning-dependent recovery from, and reduces magnitude of deficits following, damage to a cortical-like brain region in a songbird pre-clinical animal model.

Neuropharmacology 2019 11 17;158:107716. Epub 2019 Jul 17.

Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, ECU Brody School of Medicine, Greenville, NC, 27834, USA. Electronic address:

Cannabidiol (CBD), a non-euphorigenic compound derived from Cannabis, shows promise for improving recovery following cerebral ischemia and has recently been shown effective for the treatment of childhood seizures caused by Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes. Given evidence for activity to mitigate effects of CNS insult and dysfunction, we considered the possibility that CBD may also protect and improve functional recovery of a complex learned behavior. To test this hypothesis, we have applied a songbird, the adult male zebra finch, as a novel pre-clinical animal model. Their learned vocalizations were temporarily disrupted with bilateral microlesions of HVC (used as a proper name) a pre-vocal motor cortical-like brain region that drives song. These microlesions destroy about 10% of HVC, and temporarily impair song production, syntax and phonology for about seven days. Recovery requires sensorimotor learning as it depends upon auditory feedback. Four CBD doses (0, 1, 10 and 100 mg/kg) within three surgery conditions (microlesion, no-microlesion, sham-microlesion) were evaluated (n = 5-6). Birds were recorded over 20 days: three baseline; six pre-microlesion drug treatment days and; 11 post-microlesion treatment and recovery days. Results indicate 10 and 100 mg/kg CBD effectively reduced the time required to recover vocal phonology and syntax. In the case of phonology, the magnitude of microlesion-related disruptions were also reduced. These results suggest CBD holds promise to improve functional recovery of complex learned behaviors following brain injury, and represent establishment of an important new animal model to screen drugs for efficacy to improve vocal recovery.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropharm.2019.107716DOI Listing
November 2019

Cannabidivarin completely rescues cognitive deficits and delays neurological and motor defects in male mutant mice.

J Psychopharmacol 2019 07 14;33(7):894-907. Epub 2019 May 14.

1 Department of Biotechnology and Life Sciences (DBSV), University of Insubria, Varese, Italy.

Background: Recent evidence suggests that 2-week treatment with the non-psychotomimetic cannabinoid cannabidivarin (CBDV) could be beneficial towards neurological and social deficits in early symptomatic mutant mice, a model of Rett syndrome (RTT).

Aim: The aim of this study was to provide further insights into the efficacy of CBDV in -null mice using a lifelong treatment schedule (from 4 to 9 weeks of age) to evaluate its effect on recognition memory and neurological defects in both early and advanced stages of the phenotype progression.

Methods: CBDV 0.2, 2, 20 and 200 mg/kg/day was administered to -null mice from 4 to 9 weeks of age. Cognitive and neurological defects were monitored during the whole treatment schedule. Biochemical analyses were carried out in brain lysates from 9-week-old wild-type and knockout mice to evaluate brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) levels as well as components of the endocannabinoid system.

Results: CBDV rescues recognition memory deficits in mutant mice and delays the appearance of neurological defects. At the biochemical level, it normalizes BDNF/IGF1 levels and the defective PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway in mutant mice at an advanced stage of the disease. deletion upregulates CB1 and CB2 receptor levels in the brain and these changes are restored after CBDV treatment.

Conclusions: CBDV administration exerts an enduring rescue of memory deficits in mutant mice, an effect that is associated with the normalization of BDNF, IGF-1 and rpS6 phosphorylation levels as well as CB1 and CB2 receptor expression. CBDV delays neurological defects but this effect is only transient.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0269881119844184DOI Listing
July 2019

Chronic treatment with the phytocannabinoid Cannabidivarin (CBDV) rescues behavioural alterations and brain atrophy in a mouse model of Rett syndrome.

Neuropharmacology 2018 09 27;140:121-129. Epub 2018 Jul 27.

Center for Behavioral Sciences and Mental Health, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy. Electronic address:

Rett syndrome (RTT) is a rare neurodevelopmental disorder, characterized by severe behavioural and physiological symptoms. RTT is caused by mutations in the MECP2 gene in about 95% of cases and to date no cure is available. The endocannabinoid system modulates several physiological processes and behavioural responses that are impaired in RTT and its deregulation has been associated with neuropsychiatric disorders which have symptoms in common with RTT. The present study evaluated the potential therapeutic efficacy for RTT of cannabidivarin (CBDV), a non-psychotropic phytocannabinoid from Cannabis sativa that presents antagonistic properties on the G protein-coupled receptor 55 (GPR55), the most recently identified cannabinoid receptor. Present results demonstrate that systemic treatment with CBDV (2, 20, 100 mg/Kg ip for 14 days) rescues behavioural and brain alterations in MeCP2-308 male mice, a validated RTT model. The CBDV treatment restored the compromised general health status, the sociability and the brain weight in RTT mice. A partial restoration of motor coordination was also observed. Moreover, increased levels of GPR55 were found in RTT mouse hippocampus, suggesting this G protein-coupled receptor as new potential target for the treatment of this disorder. Present findings highlight for the first time for RTT the translational relevance of CBDV, an innovative therapeutic agent that is under active investigation in the clinical setting.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropharm.2018.07.029DOI Listing
September 2018

Novel N-Substituted Benzimidazolones as Potent, Selective, CNS-Penetrant, and Orally Active M1 mAChR Agonists.

ACS Med Chem Lett 2010 Sep 8;1(6):244-8. Epub 2010 Jun 8.

GlaxoSmithKline, 1250 South Collegeville Road, Collegeville, Pennsylvania 19426.

Virtual screening of the corporate compound collection yielded compound 1 as a subtype selective muscarinic M1 receptor agonist hit. Initial optimization of the N-capping group of the central piperidine ring resulted in compounds 2 and 3 with significantly improved potency and selectivity. Subsequent optimization of substituents on the phenyl ring of the benzimidazolone moiety led to the discovery of novel muscarinic M1 receptor agonists 4 and 5 with excellent potency, general and subtype selectivity, and pharmacokinetic (PK) properties including good central nervous system (CNS) penetration and oral bioavailability. Compound 5 showed robust in vivo activities in animal models of cognition enhancement. The combination of high potency, excellent selectivity, and good PK properties makes compounds 4 and 5 valuable tool compounds for investigating and validating potential therapeutic benefits resulting from selective M1 activation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ml100105xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4007837PMC
September 2010
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