Mechanisms of CB1 receptor signaling: endocannabinoid modulation of synaptic strength

Int J Obes (Lond). 2006 Apr:30 Suppl 1:S19-23. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0803273.


The CB1 cannabinoid receptor has attracted much recent interest because of the observation that CB1 receptor antagonists have efficacy in treating metabolic syndrome and obesity. CB1 receptors also mediate most of the psychotropic effects of Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta9THC), the principal psychoactive component of cannabis. In addition, they are one component of an interesting and widespread paracrine signaling system, the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is comprised of cannabinoid receptors, endogenous cannabinoids, and the metabolic pathways responsible for their synthesis and degradation. The details of the endocannabinoid system have been most thoroughly studied in the brain. Here it has been shown to be intimately involved in several forms of neuronal plasticity. That is, activation of CB1 receptors by endocannabinoids produces either short- or long-term changes in the efficacy of synaptic transmission. The behavioral consequences of these changes are many, but some of the most striking and relevant to the current symposium are those associated with endogenous reward and consumptive behavior.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Appetite Regulation / physiology
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators / physiology*
  • Depression / metabolism
  • Endocannabinoids*
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology
  • Humans
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Paracrine Communication / physiology*
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / metabolism*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*


  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators
  • Endocannabinoids
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1