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PLoS One. 2014 Dec 17;9(12):e113161. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0113161. eCollection 2014.

Protective effects of cannabidiol on lesion-induced intervertebral disc degeneration.

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Department of Morphology, Physiology and Basic Pathology, Dental School, University of São Paulo (USP), NAPNA, Ribeirão Preto, Brazil.
Department of Physics, Philosophy and Sciences School, University of São Paulo (USP), Ribeirão Preto, Brazil.
Division of Radiology, Medical School, University of São Paulo (USP), Ribeirão Preto, Brazil.
Department of Pharmacology, Medical School, University of São Paulo (USP), NAPNA, Ribeirão Preto, Brazil.
Department of Biomechanics, Medicine and Rehabilitation of the Locomotor Apparatus, Medical School, University of São Paulo (USP), Ribeirão Preto, Brazil.


Disc degeneration is a multifactorial process that involves hypoxia, inflammation, neoinnervation, accelerated catabolism, and reduction in water and glycosaminoglycan content. Cannabidiol is the main non-psychotropic component of the Cannabis sativa with protective and anti-inflammatory properties. However, possible therapeutic effects of cannabidiol on intervertebral disc degeneration have not been investigated yet. The present study investigated the effects of cannabidiol intradiscal injection in the coccygeal intervertebral disc degeneration induced by the needle puncture model using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and histological analyses. Disc injury was induced in the tail of male Wistar rats via a single needle puncture. The discs selected for injury were punctured percutaneously using a 21-gauge needle. MRI and histological evaluation were employed to assess the results. The effects of intradiscal injection of cannabidiol (30, 60 or 120 nmol) injected immediately after lesion were analyzed acutely (2 days) by MRI. The experimental group that received cannabidiol 120 nmol was resubmitted to MRI examination and then to histological analyses 15 days after lesion/cannabidiol injection. The needle puncture produced a significant disc injury detected both by MRI and histological analyses. Cannabidiol significantly attenuated the effects of disc injury induced by the needle puncture. Considering that cannabidiol presents an extremely safe profile and is currently being used clinically, these results suggest that this compound could be useful in the treatment of intervertebral disc degeneration.

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