Canna~Fangled Abstracts

Cannabinoid modulation of drug reward and the implications of marijuana legalization.

By November 25, 2014 No Comments
2014 Nov 25. pii: S0006-8993(14)01618-7. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2014.11.034. [Epub ahead of print]

 modulation of drug reward and the implications of marijuana legalization.


Marijuana is the most popular illegal drug worldwide. Recent trends indicate that this may soon change; not due to decreased marijuana use, but to an amendment in marijuana’s illegal status. The cannabinoid type 1 (CB1) receptor mediates marijuana’s psychoactive and reinforcing properties. CB1 receptors are also part of the brain endocannabinoid (eCB) system and support numerous forms of learning and memory, including the conditioned reinforcing properties of cues predicting reward or punishment. This is accomplished via eCB-dependent alterations in mesolimbic dopamine function, which plays an obligatory role in reward learning and motivation. Presynaptic CB1 receptors control midbrain dopamine neuron activity and thereby shape phasic dopamine release in target regions, particularly the nucleus accumbens (NAc). By also regulating synaptic input to the NAc, CB1 receptors modulate NAc output onto downstream neurons of the basal ganglia motor circuit, and thereby support goal-directed behaviors. Abused drugs promote short- and long-term adaptations in eCB-regulation of mesolimbic dopamine function, and thereby hijack neural systems related to the pursuit of rewards to promote drug abuse. By pharmacologically targeting the CB1 receptors, marijuana has preferential access to this neuronal system and can potently alter eCB-dependent processing of reward-related stimuli. As marijuana legalization progresses, greater access to this drug should increase the utility of marijuana as a research tool to better understand the eCB system, which has the potential to advance cannabinoid-based treatments for drug addiction.
Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier B.V.


Dopamine; Endocannabinoids; Marijuana; Mesolimbic; Nucleus Accumbens; Ventral Tegmental Area


[PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

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