Effects of intra-prelimbic prefrontal cortex injection of cannabidiol on anxiety-like behavior: Involvement of 5HT1A receptors and previous stressful experience.

“The prelimbic medial prefrontal cortex (PL) is an important encephalic structure involved in the expression of emotional states. In a previous study, intra-PL injection of cannabidiol (CBD), a major non-psychotomimetic cannabinoid present in the Cannabis sativa plant, reduced the expression of fear conditioning response…

CBD caused an anxiolytic, rather than anxiogenic, effect…

Taken together, these results suggest that CBD modulation of anxiety in the PL depend on 5HT1A-mediated neurotransmission and previous stressful experience.”


The endocannabinoid system and the treatment of mood and anxiety disorders.

“The central endocannabinoid system is a neuroactive lipid signalling system in the brain which acts to control neurotransmitter release. The expression patterns of this system throughout limbic regions of the brain ideally situate it to exert regulatory control over emotional behaviour, mood and stress responsivity. A growing body of evidence unequivocally demonstrates that deficits in endocannabinoid signalling may result in depressive and anxiogenic behavioral responses, while pharmacological augmentation of endocannabinoid signalling can produce both antidepressive and anxiolytic behavioral responses. The aim of this review is to summarize current knowledge of the role of the endocannabinoid system in the etiology and treatment of mood and anxiety disorders, such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Collectively, both clinical and preclinical data argue that cannabinoid receptor signalling may be a realistic target in the development of a novel class of agent for the pharmacotherapy of mood and anxiety disorders.”


Cannabinoids and anxiety.

“The term cannabinoids encompasses compounds produced by the plant Cannabis sativa, such as delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol, and synthetic counterparts. Their actions occur mainly through activation of cannabinoid type 1 (CB1) receptors. Arachidonoyl ethanolamide (anandamide) and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG) serve as major endogenous ligands (endocannabinoids) of CB1 receptors. Hence, the cannabinoid receptors, the endocannabinoids, and their metabolizing enzymes comprise the endocannabinoid system. Cannabinoids induce diverse responses on anxiety- and fear-related behaviors. Generally, low doses tend to induce anxiolytic-like effects, whereas high doses often cause the opposite. Inhibition of endocannabinoid degradation seems to circumvent these biphasic effects by enhancing CB1 receptor signaling in a temporarily and spatially restricted manner, thus reducing anxiety-like behaviors. Pharmacological blockade or genetic deletion of CB1 receptors, in turn, primarily exerts anxiogenic-like effects and impairments in extinction of aversive memories. Interestingly, pharmacological blockade of Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid Type-1 (TRPV1) channel, which can be activated by anandamide as well, has diametrically opposite consequences. This book chapter summarizes and conceptualizes our current knowledge about the role of (endo)cannabinoids in fear and anxiety and outlines implications for an exploitation of the endocannabinoid system as a target for new anxiolytic drugs.”


Pharmacological exploitation of the endocannabinoid system: new perspectives for the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders?

 “Animal experiments suggest that drugs promoting endocannabinoid action may represent a novel strategy for the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders.

Because of its analgesic, antiemetic and tranquilizing effects, the herb Cannabis sativa has been used for medical purposes for centuries. In addition, preparations of cannabis, such as marijuana, hashish or skunk, have a long history as drugs of abuse.1 Typical effects of cannabis abuse are amnesia, sedation and a feeling of well-being described as “bliss”.2 In the middle of the last century, Raphael Mechoulam and colleagues identified Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) as the main psychoactive ingredient of this herb. Today, it is known that Cannabis sativa contains more than 60 substances, such as cannabidiol, cannabinol and cannabicromene, which are referred to as phytocannabinoids.3 Their lipid nature posed a significant obstacle to chemical experiments, which might explain why the discovery of phytocannabinoids occurred late compared to other natural compounds (e.g. morphine was isolated from opium in the XIX century). The molecular structure rendered it likely that Δ9-THC exerts its effects primarily by changing physico-chemical characteristics of cell membranes. Therefore it came as a surprise that specific binding sites could be identified within the mammalian brain,4 followed by isolation and characterization of endogenous binding substances, named endocannabinoids.5 The development of novel pharmacological compounds targeting receptors or ligand synthesis and degradation revealed a number of complex brain functions, which are tightly controlled by the endocannabinoid system. The aim of the present review is to briefly introduce this system and its pharmacology, to discuss its involvement in psychopathology and to illustrate its therapeutic potential.


 Malfunctions in the endocannabinoid system may promote the development and maintenance of psychiatric disorders such as depression, phobias and panic disorder. Thus, CB1 agonists or inhibitors of anandamide hydrolysis are expected to exert antidepressant and anxiolytic effects. Future studies should consider 1) the development of CB1 antagonists that cannot readily cross the blood-brain barrier, 2) shifts in the balance of CB1 vs. TRPV1 signalling, 3) the allosteric site of CB1 receptor and 4) the potential involvement of CB2 receptor in mood regulation. Striking similarities in (endo)cannabinoid action in animals and men render it likely that the new pharmacological principle outlined in the present article may find their way into clinical practice.”


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…”


Effects of cannabinoids on the anxiety-like response in mice.

“Several pieces of anatomical, biochemical and pharmacological evidence indicate that the endocannabinoid system via CB1 receptors is implicated in the control of emotional behavior. However, previous studies have reported unclear and contradictory results concerning the role of cannabinoids in anxiety. The aim of the present study was to examine the influence of the cannabinoid agonist WIN 55,212-2, the CB1 antagonist AM 281, the inhibitor of anandamide hydrolysis AACOCF3  and the inhibitor of anandamide transporter AM404 on the anxiety-like response in mice in the light/dark box test…

  These results support the hypothesis that the endocannabinoid system is involved in the regulation of anxiety-like behavior, and also suggest that the inhibitors of anandamide hydrolysis might be potential anxiolytic drugs.”


The endocannabinoid and endovanilloid systems interact in the rat prelimbic medial prefrontal cortex to control anxiety-like behavior.

“Cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB(1)) agonists usually induce dose-dependent biphasic effects on anxiety-related responses. Low doses induce anxiolytic-like effects, whereas high doses are ineffective or anxiogenic, probably due to activation of Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid Type 1 (TRPV(1)) channels.

 In this study we have investigated this hypothesis by verifying the effects of the CB(1)/TRPV(1) agonist ACEA injected into the prelimbic medial prefrontal cortex (PL) and the participation of endocannabinoids in the anxiolytic-like responses induced by TRPV(1) antagonism, using the elevated plus-maze (EPM) and the Vogel conflict test (VCT). Moreover, we verified the expression of these receptors in the PL by double labeling immunofluorescence. ACEA induced anxiolytic-like effect in the intermediate dose, which was attenuated by previous injection of AM251, a CB(1) receptor antagonist. The higher and ineffective ACEA dose caused anxiogenic- and anxiolytic-like effects, when injected after AM251 or the TRPV(1) antagonist 6-iodonordihydrocapsaicin (6-I-CPS), respectively. Higher dose of 6-I-CPS induced anxiolytic-like effects both in the EPM and the VCT, which were prevented by previous administration of AM251. In addition, immunofluorescence showed that CB(1) and TRPV(1) receptors are closely located in the PL.

These results indicate that the endocannabinoid and endovanilloid systems interact in the PL to control anxiety-like behavior.”


Anxiolytic-like effects induced by blockade of transient receptor potential vanilloid type 1 (TRPV1) channels in the medial prefrontal cortex of rats.

“The endocannabinoid anandamide, in addition to activating cannabinoid type 1 receptors (CB1), may act as an agonist at transient receptor potential vanilloid type 1 (TRPV1) channels. In the periaqueductal gray, CB1 activation inhibits, whereas TRPV1 increases, anxiety-like behavior. In the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), another brain region related to defensive responses, CB1 activation induces anxiolytic-like effects. However, a possible involvement of TRPV1 is still unclear.

In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that TRPV1 channel contributes to the modulation of anxiety-like behavior in the mPFC.


These data suggest that TRPV1 in the ventral mPFC tonically inhibits anxiety-like behavior. TRPV1 could facilitate defensive responses opposing, therefore, the anxiolytic-like effects reported after local activation of CB1 receptors.”


Anxiolytic-like effect induced by the cannabinoid CB1 receptor agonist, arachydonilcyclopropylamide (ACPA), in the rat amygdala is mediated through the D1 and D2 dopaminergic systems.

“In the present study the influence of the dopaminergic system(s) of the amygdala on the anxiolytic-like effect of the cannabinoid CB1 receptor agonist arachydonilcyclopropylamide (ACPA) in male Wistar rats was investigated. An elevated plus-maze test of anxiety was used to assess anxiety-like behaviors…

It can be concluded that the dopaminergic system of the amygdala may be involved, at least partly, in the anxiolytic-like effects induced by ACPA in the rat amygdala.”


Anxiolytic Effects in Mice of a Dual Blocker of Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase and Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid Type-1 Channels

“The endocannabinoid-inactivating enzyme, fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), and the transient receptor potential vanilloid type-1 (TRPV1) channel are new targets for the development of anxiolytic drugs…

 Simultaneous ‘indirect’ activation of CB1 receptors following FAAH inhibition, and antagonism at TRPV1 receptors might represent a new therapeutic strategy against anxiety.”