Cannabinoid CB2 receptors in human brain inflammation

Br J Pharmacol. 2008 Jan;153(2):277-85. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjp.0707505. Epub 2007 Oct 15.


The presence of functional cannabinoid CB2 receptors in the CNS has provoked considerable controversy over the past few years. Formerly considered as an exclusively peripheral receptor, it is now accepted that it is also present in limited amounts and distinct locations in the brain of several animal species, including humans. Furthermore, the inducible nature of these receptors under neuroinflammatory conditions, in contrast to CB1, makes them attractive targets for the development of novel therapeutic approaches. In fact, the undesired psychoactive effects caused by CB1 activation have largely limited the clinical use of cannabinoid-related compounds that act on these receptors. In this review some recent findings on the antiinflammatory properties of CB2 receptors are presented, as well as new perspectives that have been obtained based on studies of human postmortem brain samples. In addition, various working hypotheses are also proposed and discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • AIDS Dementia Complex / pathology
  • AIDS Dementia Complex / physiopathology
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology
  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology
  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Encephalitis / pathology
  • Encephalitis / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Inflammation / physiopathology
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2 / agonists
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2 / physiology*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2