“Inflammation within the brain is a major component of the damage associated with Alzheimer’s disease, but it has always been assumed that this response was coming from immune-like cells in the brain, not the nerve cells themselves,” says Antonio Currais, a postdoctoral researcher in Schubert’s laboratory and first author of the paper.
“When we were able to identify the molecular basis of the inflammatory response to amyloid beta, it became clear that THC-like compounds that the nerve cells make themselves may be involved in protecting the cells from dying.”
Brain cells have switches known as receptors that can be activated by endocannabinoids made by the body that are used for intercellular signalling in the brain. THC is similar in activity to endocannabinoids that can activate the same receptors.
Physical activity results in the production of endocannabinoids and some studies have shown that exercise may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
WATCH: Marijuana compound removes toxic Alzheimer’s protein from the brain