Decades of research has provided evidence for the role of the endocannabinoid system in human health and disease. This versatile system, consisting of two receptors (CB1 and CB2), their endogenous ligands (endocannabinoids), and metabolic enzymes has been implicated in a wide variety of disease states, ranging from neurological disorders to cancer. CB2 has gained much interest for its beneficial immunomodulatory role that can be obtained without eliciting psychotropic effects through CB1. Recent studies have shed light on a protective role of CB2 in cardiovascular disease, an ailment which currently takes more lives each year in Western countries than any other disease or injury. By use of CB2 knockout mice and CB2-selective ligands, knowledge of how CB2 signaling affects atherosclerosis and ischemia has been acquired, providing a major stepping stone between basic science and translational clinical research. Here, we summarize the current understanding of the endocannabinoid system in human pathologies and provide a review of the results from preclinical studies examining its function in cardiovascular disease, with a particular emphasis on possible CB2-targeted therapeutic interventions to alleviate atherosclerosis.
2-AG; AEA; CB1; CB2; Cannabinoids; atherosclerosis; ischemia/reperfusion
- PMID: 29412125
- DOI: 10.2174/1871529X18666180206161457