The complexities of the cardiovascular actions of cannabinoids

Br J Pharmacol. 2004 May;142(1):20-6. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjp.0705725.


The cardiovascular actions of cannbinoids are complex. In general they cause vasorelaxation in isolated blood vessels, while in anaesthetised animals they cause multiphasic responses which involve an early bradycardia and long-lasting hypotension. However, in conscious animals, the picture is one of bradycardia followed by pressor responses. Clearly, the responses to cannabinoids are dependent on the experimental conditions and synthetic cannabinoids and endocannabinoids exhibit different pharmacologies. In terms of mechanisms involved in the vascular responses to cannabinoids, the following have been implicated: the involvement of 'classical' cannabinoid receptors, the involvement of a novel endothelial cannabinoid receptor, the release of nitric oxide, the release of endothelium-derived hyperpolarising factor (EDHF), the activation of vanilloid receptors, metabolism of endocannabinoids to vasoactive molecules, and both peripheral inhibition and central excitation of the sympathetic nervous system.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arachidonic Acids / metabolism
  • Arachidonic Acids / pharmacology
  • Cannabinoids / metabolism
  • Cannabinoids / pharmacology*
  • Cardiovascular System / drug effects*
  • Cardiovascular System / metabolism
  • Endocannabinoids
  • Humans
  • Polyunsaturated Alkamides
  • Vasodilation / drug effects
  • Vasodilation / physiology


  • Arachidonic Acids
  • Cannabinoids
  • Endocannabinoids
  • Polyunsaturated Alkamides
  • anandamide