By Diane Mar-Nicolle
Cardiac complications and arrhythmias, which include fast, slow and irregular heartbeats, are major causes of death in patients with diabetes-related hyperglycemia.
The arrhythmias are a consequence of high blood sugar levels called hyperglycemia, which radically affects the normal function of proteins in the heart.
SFU researchers Peter Ruben, Mohamed Fouda and Reza Ghovanloo have new evidence that Cannabidiol (CBD), the primary non-psychotropic component of Cannabis sativa, may be effective in mitigating some effects of diabetes-related hyperglycemia.
“One of the proteins affected by hyperglycemia is the voltage-gated sodium channel, also called Nav1.5,” says Ruben. “Nav1.5 is responsible for the electrical signal that leads to muscle contractions and the heartbeat.”
Using cells grown in the lab with normal and high glucose levels, the team measured the sodium current in Nav1.5.
They found that high glucose levels caused Nav1.5 to function abnormally and that CBD, by directly affecting the protein and through its anti-oxidant properties, restored normal function in Nav1.5.
Ruben and his team previously found that abnormal sodium-channel function is an important cause of arrhythmia.
“Cannabidiol is approved for treating some seizure disorders caused by the same kind of abnormal sodium-channel function, but in the brain,” he says. “Since arrhythmias are like little seizures in the heart, we correctly hypothesized that CBD could potentially be used to treat the kind of cardiac arrhythmias that can arise from hyperglycemia.”
Ruben says Cannabidiol treatment for cardiac arrhythmias will need to undergo clinical testing.
The study can be found here: https://bpspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bph.15020
Simon Fraser University