Role of endocannabinoid signaling in anxiety and depression.Curr Top Behav Neurosci. 2009; 1:347-71.CT
Cannabinoid receptors and their endogenous ligands are located throughout the limbic, or "emotional," brain, where they modulate synaptic neurotransmission. Converging preclinical and clinical data suggest a role for endogenous cannabinoid signaling in the modulation of anxiety and depression. Augmentation of endocannabinoid signaling (ECS) has anxiolytic effects, whereas blockade or genetic deletion of CB₁ receptors has anxiogenic properties. Augmentation of ECS also appears to have anti-depressant actions, and in some assays blockade and genetic deletion of CB₁ receptors produces depressive phenotypes. These data provide evidence that ECS serves in an anxiolytic, and possibly anti-depressant, role. These data suggest novel approaches to treatment of affective disorders which could include enhancement of endogenous cannabinoid signaling, and warrant cautious use of CB₁ receptor antagonists in patients with pre-existing affective disorders.