Enhancing axonal myelination in seniors: A review exploring the potential impact cannabis has on myelination in the aged brain




Murray, Colin J.
Vecchiarelli, Haley A.
Tremblay, Marie-Ève

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Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience


Consumption of cannabis is on the rise as public opinion trends toward acceptance and its consequent legalization. Specifically, the senior population is one of the demographics increasing their use of cannabis the fastest, but research aimed at understanding cannabis’ impact on the aged brain is still scarce. Aging is characterized by many brain changes that slowly alter cognitive ability. One process that is greatly impacted during aging is axonal myelination. The slow degradation and loss of myelin (i.e., demyelination) in the brain with age has been shown to associate with cognitive decline and, furthermore, is a common characteristic of numerous neurological diseases experienced in aging. It is currently not known what causes this age-dependent degradation, but it is likely due to numerous confounding factors (i.e., heightened inflammation, reduced blood flow, cellular senescence) that impact the many cells responsible for maintaining overall homeostasis and myelin integrity. Importantly, animal studies using non-human primates and rodents have also revealed demyelination with age, providing a reliable model for researchers to try and understand the cellular mechanisms at play. In rodents, cannabis was recently shown to modulate the myelination process. Furthermore, studies looking at the direct modulatory impact cannabis has on microglia, astrocytes and oligodendrocyte lineage cells hint at potential mechanisms to prevent some of the more damaging activities performed by these cells that contribute to demyelination in aging. However, research focusing on how cannabis impacts myelination in the aged brain is lacking. Therefore, this review will explore the evidence thus far accumulated to show how cannabis impacts myelination and will extrapolate what this knowledge may mean for the aged brain.



aged brain, myelination, myelin repair, cannabis, microglia, oligodendrocyte, oligodendrocyte progenitor cell, astrocyte


Murray, C. J., Vecchiarelli, H. A., & Tremblay, M-È. (2023). Enhancing axonal myelination in seniors: A review exploring the potential impact cannabis has on myelination in the aged brain. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 15, 1119552. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnagi.2023.1119552