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Contributions Of Endocannabinoid Signaling To Psychiatric Disorders In Humans: Genetic And Biochemical Evidence

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The endocannabinoid signaling system is a widespread, neuromodulatory system in brain and is also widely utilized in the periphery to modulate metabolic functions and the immune system. Preclinical data demonstrate that endocannabinoid signaling is an important stress buffer and modulates emotional and cognitive functions. These data suggest the hypothesis that endocannabinoid signaling could be dysfunctional in a number of mental disorders. Genetic polymorphisms in the human genes for two important proteins of the endocannabinoid signaling system, the CB1 cannabinoid receptor (CB1R) and fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), have been explored in the context of normal and pathological conditions. In the case the gene for FAAH, the mechanistic relationships among the common genetic polymorphism, the expression of the FAAH protein and its likely impact on endocannabinoid signaling are understood. However, multiple polymorphisms in the gene for the CB1R occur and are associated with human phenotypic differences without an understanding of the functional relationships among the gene, mRNA, protein and protein function. The endocannabinoid ligands are found in the circulation and several studies have identified changes in their concentrations under various conditions. These data are reviewed for the purpose of generating hypotheses and to encourage further studies in this very interesting and important area.





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