Cannabidiol induces autophagy and improves neuronal health associated with SIRT1 mediated longevity

Zhizhen Wang, Peng Zheng, Xi Chen, Yuanyi Xie, Katrina Weston-Green, Nadia Solowij, Yee Lian Chew, Xu Feng Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
43 Downloads (Pure)


Autophagy is a catabolic process to eliminate defective cellular molecules via lysosome-mediated degradation. Dysfunctional autophagy is associated with accelerated aging, whereas stimulation of autophagy could have potent anti-aging effects. We report that cannabidiol (CBD), a natural compound from Cannabis sativa, extends lifespan and rescues age-associated physiological declines in C. elegans. CBD promoted autophagic flux in nerve-ring neurons visualized by a tandem-tagged LGG-1 reporter during aging in C. elegans. Similarly, CBD activated autophagic flux in hippocampal and SH-SY5Y neurons. Furthermore, CBD-mediated lifespan extension was dependent on autophagy genes (bec-1, vps-34, and sqst-1) confirmed by RNAi knockdown experiments. C. elegans neurons have previously been shown to accumulate aberrant morphologies, such as beading and blebbing, with increasing age. Interestingly, CBD treatment slowed the development of these features in anterior and posterior touch receptor neurons (TRN) during aging. RNAi knockdown experiments indicated that CBD-mediated age-associated morphological changes in TRNs require bec-1 and sqst-1, not vps-34. Further investigation demonstrated that CBD-induced lifespan extension and increased neuronal health require sir-2.1/SIRT1. These findings collectively indicate the anti-aging benefits of CBD treatment, in both in vitro and in vivo models, and its potential to improve neuronal health and longevity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1505-1524
Number of pages20
Issue number3
Early online date20 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • Aging
  • Autophagy
  • C. elegans
  • Cannabidiol
  • Neurite outgrowth
  • SIRT1/sir-2.1


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