How do cannabinoids make us feel that way?

October 9, 2007

Marijuana and its main psychoactive component, THC, exert a plethora of behavioral and autonomic effects on humans and animals. Some of these effects are the cause of the widespread illicit use of marijuana, while others might be involved in the potential therapeutic use of this drug for the treatment of several neuronal disorders.

The great majority of these effects of THC are mediated by cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1), which is abundantly expressed in the central nervous system. The exact anatomical and neuronal substrates of each action, however, were previously unknown.

Using an advanced genetic approach, Krisztina Monory and colleagues at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz discovered that specific neuronal subpopulations mediate the distinct effects of THC. Their work is published online this week in the open-access journal PLoS Biology.

In their study, the researchers generated mutant mice lacking CB1 expression in defined neuronal subpopulations but not in others. These mice were treated with THC, and typical effects of the drug on motor behavior, pain, and thermal sensation were scored. Their discovery of the neural substrates underlying specific effects of THC could lead to a refined interpretation of the pharmacological actions of cannabinoids. Moreover, these data might provide the rationale for the development of drugs capable of selectively activating CB1 in specific neuronal subpopulations, thereby better exploiting cannabinoids’ potential therapeutic properties.

Citation: Monory K, Blaudzun H, Massa F, Kaiser N, Lemberger T, et al (2007) Genetic dissection of behavioural and autonomic effects of D9-tetrahydrocannabinol in mice. PLoS Biol 5(10): e269. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0050269

Source: Public Library of Science

Explore further: The surprising effect of cannabis on morphine dependence

Related Stories

The surprising effect of cannabis on morphine dependence

July 7, 2009

( -- Injections of THC, the active principle of cannabis, eliminate dependence on opiates (morphine, heroin) in rats deprived of their mothers at birth. This has been shown by a study carried out by Valérie ...

Marijuana increases alcohol toxicity in young rats

April 8, 2008

Marijuana is among the most frequently used illicit drugs by women during their childbearing years and there is growing concern that marijuana abuse during pregnancy, either alone or in combination with other drugs, may have ...

New study sheds light on painkilling system in brain

August 24, 2010

Repeatedly boosting brain levels of one natural painkiller soon shuts down the brain cell receptors that respond to it, so that the painkilling effect is lost, according to a surprising new study led by Scripps Research Institute ...

Cannabis compound can help cells

February 19, 2009

( -- Cannabis has been used recreationally and for medicinal purposes for centuries, yet its 60 plus active components are only partly understood. Now scientists have discovered how a compound in cannabis can ...

Recommended for you

A quantum of light for materials science

December 1, 2015

Computer simulations that predict the light-induced change in the physical and chemical properties of complex systems, molecules, nanostructures and solids usually ignore the quantum nature of light. Scientists of the Max-Planck ...

Exiled exoplanet likely kicked out of star's neighborhood

December 1, 2015

A planet discovered last year sitting at an unusually large distance from its star - 16 times farther than Pluto is from the sun - may have been kicked out of its birthplace close to the star in a process similar to what ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.