Increasing evidence for the therapeutic potential of Cannabis in numerous pathological and physiological conditions has led to a surge of studies investigating the active compounds in different chemovars and their mechanisms of action, as well as their efficacy and safety. The biological effects of Cannabis have been attributed to phytocannabinoid modulation of the endocannabinoid system. In-vitro and in-vivo studies have shown that pure phytocannabinoids can alter the levels of endocannabinoids and other cannabimimetic lipids. However, it is not yet understood whether whole Cannabis extracts exert variable effects on the endocannabinoid metabolome, and whether these effects vary between tissues. To address these challenges, we have developed and validated a novel analytical approach, termed « cannabinoidomics, » for the simultaneous extraction and analysis of both endogenous and plant cannabinoids from different biological matrices. In the methodological development liquid chromatography high resolution tandem mass spectrometry (LC/HRMS/MS) was used to identify 57 phytocannabinoids, 15 major phytocannabinoid metabolites, and 78 endocannabinoids and cannabimimetic lipids in different biological matrices, most of which have no analytical standards. In the validation process, spiked cannabinoids were quantified with acceptable selectivity, repeatability, reproducibility, sensitivity, and accuracy. The power of this analytical method is demonstrated by analysis of serum and four different sections of mouse brains challenged with three different cannabidiol (CBD)-rich extracts. The results demonstrate that variations in the minor phytocannabinoid contents of the different extracts may lead to varied effects on endocannabinoid concentrations, and on the CBD metabolite profile in the peripheral and central systems. We also show that the Cannabis challenge significantly decreases the levels of several endocannabinoids in specific brain sections compared to the control group. This effect is extract-specific and suggests the importance of minor, other-than CBD, phytocannabinoid or non-phytocannabinoid compounds.
Keywords: Cannabidiol; Cannabis sativa L.; Endocannabinoids; LC/HRMS; Mass spectral library; Phytocannabinoids.