Endocannabinoids and traumatic brain injury

Mol Neurobiol. 2007 Aug;36(1):68-74. doi: 10.1007/s12035-007-8008-6. Epub 2007 Sep 18.


In response to traumatic brain injury, there is local and transient accumulation of 2-AG at the site of injury, peaking at 4 h and sustained up to at least 24 h. Neuroprotection exerted by exogenous 2-AG suggests that the formation of 2-AG may serve as a molecular regulator of pathophysiological events, attenuating the brain damage. Inhibition of this protective effect by SR-141716A, a CB(1) cannabinoid receptor antagonist, and the lack of effect of 2-AG in CB(1) knockout mice suggest that 2-AG and the CB(1) receptor may be important in the pathophysiology of traumatic brain injury. 2-AG exerts its neuroprotective effect after traumatic brain injury, at least in part, by inhibition of NF-kappaB transactivation. 2-AG also inhibits, at an early stage (2-4 h), the expression of the main proinflammatory cytokines, TNF-alpha, IL-6, and IL-1beta, and is accompanied by reduction of BBB permeability. Moreover, the CB(1), CB(2), and TRVP1 receptors are expressed on microvascular endothelial cells, and their activation by 2-AG counteracts endothelin (ET-1)-induced cerebral microvascular responses (namely, Ca(2+) mobilization and cytoskeleton rearrangement). This suggests that the functional interaction between 2-AG and ET-1 may provide a potential alternative pathway for abrogating ET-1-inducible vasoconstriction after brain injury and play a role in the neuroprotective effects exerted by 2-AG, as a potent vasodilator.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood-Brain Barrier
  • Brain Edema / metabolism
  • Brain Injuries / metabolism*
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators / metabolism*
  • Endocannabinoids*
  • Glycerides / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Oxidation-Reduction


  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators
  • Endocannabinoids
  • Glycerides
  • 1-arachidonyl monoglyceride