Cannabinoid agonists induce complex and often contradictory effects on anxiety in humans and experimental animals. The data from animal tests provide evidence of dose-dependent bidirectional modulation of anxiety by the cannabinoid system and the importance of environmental context. The mechanisms mediating the effects of cannabinoids on anxiety-related responses appear to involve CB 1 and non-CB 1 cannabinoid receptors. In addition, the CRH, GABA A , cholecystokinin, opioid and serotonergic systems have also been implicated. Brain regions such as the amygdala, hippocampus and cortex, directly involved in the regulation of emotional behavior, contain high densities of CB 1 receptors. Mutant mice lacking CB 1 receptors show anxiogenic-like and depressive-like phenotypes in several tests, as well as profound alterations in their adrenocortical activity. Pharmacological blockade of CB 1 receptors induces anxiety in rats, and inhibition of anandamide metabolism produces anxiolytic-like effects. Thus, the endocannabinoid system appears to play a pivotal role in the regulation of emotional states and may constitute a novel pharmacological target for anti-anxiety therapy.
Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior – Elsevier
Published: Jun 1, 2005
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