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Canna~Fangled Abstracts

Endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptor genetics.

By April 9, 2002No Comments
Prog Neurobiol. 2002 Apr;66(5):307-44.


pm-100-at-275x205This review presents the remarkable advances that have been achieved in marijuana (cannabinoid) research, with the discovery of specific receptors and the existence of naturally occurring cannabis-like substances in the human body and brain. The last decade has seen more rapid progress in marijuana research than any time in the thousands of years that marijuana has been used by humans, particularly in cannabinoid genomics. The cDNA and genomic sequences encoding G protein-coupled cannabinoid receptors (Cnrs) from several species have now been cloned. Endogenous cannabinoids (endocannabinoids), synthetic and hydrolyzing enzymes and transporters that define neurochemically-specific cannabinoid brain pathways have been identified. Endocannabinoid lipid signaling molecules alter activity at G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR) and possibly at anandamide-gated ion channels, such as vanilloid receptors. Availability of increasingly-specific CB1 and CB2 Cnr antagonists and of CB1 and CB2 Cnr knockout mice have increased our understanding of these cannabinoid systems and provides tantalizing evidence for even more G protein-coupled Cnrs. Initial studies of the Cnr gene structure, regulation and polymorphisms whet our appetite for more information about these interesting genes, their variants and roles in vulnerabilities to addictions and other neuropsychiatric disorders. Behavioral studies of cannabinoids document the complex interactions between rewarding and aversive effects of these drugs. Pursuing cannabinoid-related molecular, pharmacological and behavioral leads will add greatly to our understanding of endogenous brain neuromodulator systems, abused substances and potential therapeutics. This review of CB1 and CB2 Cnr genes in human and animal brain and their neurobiological effects provide a basis for many of these studies. Therefore, understanding the physiological cannabinoid control system in the human body and brain will contribute to elucidating this natural regulatory mechanism in health and disease.