Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common liver disease in the Western world, and it is closely associated to obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and dyslipidemia. Medicinal cannabis and some neutral cannabinoids have been suggested as a potential therapy for liver diseases.
Δ-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (Δ-THCA), the non-psychotropic precursor of Δ-THC, is one of the most abundant cannabinoids presents in Cannabis Sativa. However, its biological activities have been poorly investigated. Herein, we studied the antifibrotic and antiinflammatory activities of Δ-THCA in two different animal models of liver injury, providing a rationale for additional studies on the medicinal use of this cannabinoid in the treatment of liver fibrosis and the management of NAFLD.
The antifibrotic activity of Δ-THCA in vitro was investigated in the cell lines LX-2 and NIH-3T3-Col1A2-luc. Non-alcoholic liver fibrosis was induced in mice by CCl treatment or, alternatively, by 23-week high fat diet (HFD) feeding. Δ-THCA was administered daily intraperitoneally during the CCl treatment or during the last 3 weeks in HFD-fed mice.
TGFβ-induced profibrotic gene expression was analyzed by luciferase and qPCR assays. Liver fibrosis and inflammation were assessed by immunochemistry and qPCR. Blood glucose, insulin, leptin and triglyceride levels were measured in HFD mice.
Δ-THCA inhibited the expression of Tenascin C (TNC) and Col3A1 induced by TGFβ in LX-2 cells and the transcriptional activity of the Col1A2 promoter in fibroblasts. Δ-THCA significantly attenuated CCl-induced liver fibrosis and inflammation and reduced T cell and macrophage infiltration. Mice fed HFD for 23 weeks developed severe obesity (DIO), fatty liver and marked liver fibrosis, accompanied by immune cell infiltration. Δ-THCA, significantly reduced body weight and adiposity, improved glucose tolerance, and drastically attenuated DIO-induced liver fibrosis and immune cell infiltration.
Δ-THCA prevents TGFβ-induced fibrotic markers in vitro and liver inflammation and fibrogenesis in vivo, providing a rationale for additional studies on the medicinal use of this cannabinoid, as well as cannabis preparations containing it, for the treatment of liver fibrosis and the management of NAFLD.

Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier GmbH.