Endocannabinoid system and psychiatry: in search of a neurobiological basis for detrimental and potential therapeutic effects.Front Behav Neurosci 2011; 5:63FB
Public concern on mental health has noticeably increased given the high prevalence of neuropsychiatric disorders. Cognition and emotionality are the most affected functions in neuropsychiatric disorders, i.e., anxiety disorders, depression, and schizophrenia. In this review, most relevant literature on the role of the endocannabinoid (eCB) system in neuropsychiatric disorders will be presented. Evidence from clinical and animal studies is provided for the participation of CB1 and CB2 receptors (CB1R and CB2R) in the above mentioned neuropsychiatric disorders. CBRs are crucial in some of the emotional and cognitive impairments reported, although more research is required to understand the specific role of the eCB system in neuropsychiatric disorders. Cannabidiol (CBD), the main non-psychotropic component of the Cannabis sativa plant, has shown therapeutic potential in several neuropsychiatric disorders. Although further studies are needed, recent studies indicate that CBD therapeutic effects may partially depend on facilitation of eCB-mediated neurotransmission. Last but not least, this review includes recent findings on the role of the eCB system in eating disorders. A deregulation of the eCB system has been proposed to be in the bases of several neuropsychiatric disorders, including eating disorders. Cannabis consumption has been related to the appearance of psychotic symptoms and schizophrenia. In contrast, the pharmacological manipulation of this eCB system has been proposed as a potential strategy for the treatment of anxiety disorders, depression, and anorexia nervosa. In conclusion, the eCB system plays a critical role in psychiatry; however, detrimental consequences of manipulating this endogenous system cannot be underestimated over the potential and promising perspectives of its therapeutic manipulation.