ACS Chem Neurosci. 2022 Mar 17. doi: 10.1021/acschemneuro.2c00040. Online ahead of print.
Cannabidiol (CBD), the major nonpsychoactive component of plant-derived cannabinoids, has been reported to have a broad range of potential beneficial pharmacological effects on the central nervous system (CNS). In this study, the droplet interface bilayer, a model cell membrane, is used to examine the effects of CBD on passive water permeability, a fundamental membrane biophysical property. The presence of CBD decreases the water permeability of model lipid membranes composed of 1,2-dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DOPC) and at low concentrations of cholesterol (Chol) (20 mol %) in DOPC, whereas when higher concentrations of Chol are present (33 mol %), CBD has an opposing effect, increasing water permeability. The diametric effect in water permeability change upon addition of CBD to Chol-low and Chol-high bilayers signifies a variant interaction of CBD, depending on the initial state of bilayer packing and fluidity. Additionally, differential scanning calorimetry studies provide evidence that there are selective changes in thermotropic behavior for CBD with DOPC and with DOPC/Chol membranes, respectively, supportive of these varying membrane interactions of CBD dependent upon cholesterol. The intriguing ability of CBD to sensitively respond to membrane Chol concentrations in modifying physical properties highlights the significant impact that CBD can have on heterogeneous biomembranes including those of the CNS, the neurons of which are enriched in Chol to a point where up to a quarter of the body’s total Chol is in the brain, and defective brain Chol homeostasis is implicated in neurodegenerative diseases.