Endocannabinoids in pain modulation

Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2002 Feb-Mar;66(2-3):235-42. doi: 10.1054/plef.2001.0361.


Five major approaches have been employed to determine the role of endocannabinoids in pain modulation: (1) studies of various markers of endocannabinoid action aimed at determining whether the necessary cannabinoid biochemical machinery is present in those brain areas that control pain sensitivity; (2) administration of exogenous cannabinoids to determine whether endocannabinoid action at appropriate sites would lead to a loss of pain sensitivity; (3) administration of compounds that would affect endocannabinoid action such as antagonists and transport inhibitors to determine whether drug-induced preterbation of cannabinoid action would alter pain sensitivity; (4) studies of genetically altered animals aimed at determining whether pain responses or responses to cannabinergic drugs are altered; and (5) studies that measure the release of endocannabinoids. Converging evidence from each of these research areas indicates that endocannabinods function to control pain in parallel with endogenous opioids but via different mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators
  • Cannabinoids / pharmacology
  • Cannabinoids / therapeutic use*
  • Central Nervous System / drug effects
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism
  • Eicosanoids / pharmacology
  • Eicosanoids / therapeutic use*
  • Endocannabinoids
  • Pain / drug therapy*
  • Pain / metabolism
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid
  • Receptors, Drug / agonists
  • Receptors, Drug / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Drug / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects


  • Biomarkers
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators
  • Cannabinoids
  • Eicosanoids
  • Endocannabinoids
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid
  • Receptors, Drug