Pharmacological Evaluation of Cannabinoid Receptor Ligands in a Mouse Model of Anxiety: Further Evidence for an Anxiolytic Role for Endogenous Cannabinoid Signaling

“Extracts of Cannabis sativa have been used for their calming and sedative effects for centuries. Recent developments in drug discovery have suggested that modulation of neuronal endogenous cannabinoid signaling systems could represent a novel approach to the treatment of anxiety-related disorders while minimizing the adverse effects of direct acting cannabinoid receptor agonists. In this study, we evaluated the effects of direct cannabinoid receptor agonists and antagonists and endocannabinoid-modulating drugs on anxiety-like behavior in mice using the elevated-plus maze.

These data indicate that activation of CB1 cannabinoid receptors reduces anxiety-like behaviors in mice and further support an anxiolytic role for endogenous cannabinoid signaling. These results suggest that pharmacological modulation of this system could represent a new approach to the treatment of anxiety-related psychiatric disorders.

Marijuana is widely used throughout the world for recreational and therapeutic purposes. A common reason given for continued marijuana use in certain populations is reduction in anxiety and relaxation; however, adverse reactions, including heightened anxiety and panic, are common and widely cited reasons for discontinuation of marijuana use. The adverse effects of marijuana are more pronounced during novel or stressful environmental conditions, after consumption of large doses of cannabis, and in naive users…”

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