The Abundant Phytocannabinoids in Rheumatoid Arthritis: Therapeutic Targets and Molecular Processes Identified Using Integrated Bioinformatics and Network Pharmacology

The endocannabinoid system consists of several phytocannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors, and enzymes that aid in numerous steps necessary to manifest any pharmacological activity. It is well known that the endocannabinoid system inhibits the pathogenesis of the inflammatory and autoimmune disease rheumatoid arthritis (RA). To the best of our knowledge, no research has been done that explains the network-pharmacology-based anti-rheumatic processes by focusing on the endocannabinoid system. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to further our understanding of the signaling pathways, associated proteins, and genes underlying RA based on the abundant natural endocannabinoids. The knowledge on how the phytocannabinoids in Cannabis sativa affect the endocannabinoid system was gathered from the literature. SwissTarget prediction and BindingDB databases were used to anticipate the targets for the phytocannabinoids. The genes related to RA were retrieved from the DisGeNET and GeneCards databases. Protein-protein interactions (high confidence > 0.7) were carried out with the aid of the string web server and displayed using Cytoscape. The Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) metabolic pathway analysis was used to perform enrichment analyses on the endocannabinoid-RA common targets. ShinyGO 0.76 was used to predict the biological processes listed in the Gene Ontology (GO) classification system. The binding affinity between the ligand and the receptors was precisely understood using molecular docking, induced-fit docking, and a molecular dynamics simulation. The network pharmacology analyses predicted that processes like response to oxygen-containing compounds and peptodyl-amino acid modification are related to the potential mechanisms of treatment for RA. These biological actions are coordinated by cancer, neuroactive ligand-receptor interaction, lipids and atherosclerosis, the calcium signaling pathway, and the Rap1 signaling pathway. According to the results of molecular docking, in the context of RA, phytocannabinoids may bind to important target proteins such PIK3CA, AKT1, MAPK9, PRKCD, BRAF, IGF1R, and NOS3. This entire study predicted the phytocannabinoids’ systemic biological characteristics. Future experimental research is needed, however, to confirm the results so far.


Cannabis sativa; cannabis; endocannabinoid system; inflammation; network pharmacology.

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