Background: There are anecdotal claims on the use of Cannabis sativa L. in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, but there is lack of scientific data to support the efficacy and safety of Cannabis sativa L. for Alzheimer’s disease.
Aim: The aim of the study was to evaluate the effect of aerial parts of Cannabis sativa L. on the cholinesterases and β-secretase enzyme activity as one of the possible mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease.
Methods: The phytochemical and heavy metal contents were analysed. The extracts were screened for acetylcholinesterase, butyrylcholinesterase and β-secretase activity. Cytotoxicity of extracts was performed in normal vero and pre-adipocytes cell lines. The extracts were characterized using high performance thin layer chromatography and high-performance liquid chromatography for their chemical fingerprints. Alkaloids, flavonoids and glycosides were present amongst the tested phytochemicals. Cannabidiol concentrations were comparatively high in the hexane and dichloromethane than in dichloromethane: methanol (1:1) and methanol extracts.
Results: Hexane and dichloromethane extracts showed a better inhibitory potential towards cholinesterase activity, while water, hexane, dichloromethane: methanol (1:1) and methanol showed an inhibitory potential towards β-secretase enzyme activity. All extracts showed no cytotoxic effect on pre-adipocytes and vero cells after 24- and 48-hours of exposure.
Conclusion: Therefore, this may explain the mechanism through which AD symptoms may be treated and managed by Cannabis sativa L. extracts.