Cannabinoid interactions with ion channels and receptors.

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Cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive component of Cannabis sativa, acts on a diverse selection of membrane proteins with promising therapeutic potential in epilepsy and chronic pain. One such protein is the voltage-gated sodium channel (Nav). CBD shows a lack of specificity for sodium channels; however, the method of interaction is still unknown. In this review, we will outline the studies that report reproducible results of CBD and other cannabinoids changing membrane channel function, with particular interest on Nav. Nav are implicated in fatal forms of epilepsy and are also associated with chronic pain. This makes Nav potential targets for CBD interaction since it has been reported to reduce pain and seizures. One potential method of interaction that is of interest in this review is whether CBD affects channel function by altering lipid bilayer properties, independent of any possible direct interaction with membrane channels. CBD’s ability to interact with its targets is a novel and important discovery. This discovery will not only prompt further research towards CBD’s characterization, but also promotes the application of cannabinoids as potentially therapeutic compounds for diseases like epilepsy and pain.

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