Cannabinoid modulation of sensory neurotransmission via cannabinoid and vanilloid receptors: roles in regulation of cardiovascular function

Life Sci. 2002 Oct 18;71(22):2577-94. doi: 10.1016/s0024-3205(02)02086-6.


Capsaicin-sensitive sensory nerves are widely distributed in the cardiovascular system. They are activated by a variety of physical and chemical stimuli, characteristically by capsaicin acting via the vanilloid receptor VR1, and have a role in the regulation of peripheral vascular resistance and maintenance of homeostasis via their afferent and efferent functions. Cannabinoids, a recently discovered family of extracellular signalling molecules, can act at cannabinoid (CB) receptors expressed on sensory nerves, to cause inhibition of sensory neurotransmitter release. There is recent evidence, however, that anandamide, an endogenous cannabinoid, can activate VR1, coexpressed with CB receptors on the same sensory nerve terminals, causing a release of sensory neurotransmitter, vasorelaxation and hypotension. Hence, anandamide can elicit opposite actions, inhibition via CB receptors and excitation via VR1, on sensory neurotransmission. The possible biological significance of this is discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arachidonic Acids / pharmacology
  • Cannabinoids / pharmacology*
  • Cardiovascular Physiological Phenomena*
  • Endocannabinoids
  • Endothelium, Vascular / drug effects
  • Hemodynamics / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Muscle, Smooth / drug effects
  • Neurons, Afferent / drug effects*
  • Polyunsaturated Alkamides
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid
  • Receptors, Drug / drug effects*
  • Synaptic Transmission / drug effects*


  • Arachidonic Acids
  • Cannabinoids
  • Endocannabinoids
  • Polyunsaturated Alkamides
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid
  • Receptors, Drug
  • anandamide