Considerable preclinical research has demonstrated the efficacy of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC), the primary psychoactive constituent of Cannabis sativa, in a wide variety of animal models of pain, but few studies have examined other phytocannabinoids. Indeed, other plant-derived cannabinoids, including cannabidiol (CBD), cannabinol (CBN), and cannabichromene (CBC) elicit antinociceptive effects in some assays. In contrast, tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), another component of cannabis, antagonizes the pharmacological effects of Δ9-THC. These results suggest that various constituents of this plant may interact in a complex manner to modulate pain. The primary purpose of the present study was to assess the antinociceptive effects of these other prevalent phytocannabinoids in the acetic acid stretching test, a rodent visceral pain model. Of the cannabinoid compounds tested, Δ9-THC and CBN bound to the CB1 receptor and produced antinociceptive effects. The CB1 receptor antagonist, rimonabant, but not the CB2 receptor antagonist, SR144528, blocked the antinociceptive effects of both compounds. Although THCV bound to the CB1 receptor with similar affinity as Δ9-THC, it had no effects when administered alone, but antagonized the antinociceptive effects of Δ9-THC when both drugs were given in combination. Importantly, the antinociceptive effects of Δ9-THC and CBN occurred at lower doses than those necessary to produce locomotor suppression, suggesting motor dysfunction did not account for the decreases in acetic acid-induced abdominal stretching. These data raise the intriguing possibility that other constituents of cannabis can be used to modify the pharmacological effects of Δ9-THC by either eliciting antinociceptive effects (i.e., CBN) or antagonizing (i.e., THCV) the actions of Δ9-THC.
Read full study here