How do cannabinoids make us feel that way?

Oct 09, 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: Stem cells use 'first aid kits' to repair damage

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New study sheds light on painkilling system in brain

Aug 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 ...

The surprising effect of cannabis on morphine dependence

Jul 07, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- 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 ...

Cannabis compound can help cells

Feb 19, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- 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 ...

Recommended for you

Environmental pollutants make worms susceptible to cold

15 minutes ago

Some pollutants are more harmful in a cold climate than in a hot, because they affect the temperature sensitivity of certain organisms. Now researchers from Danish universities have demonstrated how this ...

Research helps steer mites from bees

2 hours ago

A Simon Fraser University chemistry professor has found a way to sway mites from their damaging effects on bees that care and feed the all-important queen bee.

Interactions of Earth's smallest players have global impact

2 hours ago

A new study reveals the interactions among bacteria and viruses that prey on them thriving in oxygen minimum zones—stretches of ocean starved for oxygen that occur around the globe. Understanding such microbial ...

User comments : 0