Cannabinoid and cannabinoid-like receptors in microglia, astrocytes, and astrocytomas

Glia. 2010 Jul;58(9):1017-30. doi: 10.1002/glia.20983.


CB1 and CB2 receptors are activated by a plethora of cannabinoid compounds, be they endogenously-produced, plant-derived or synthetic. These receptors are expressed by microglia, astrocytes and astrocytomas, and their activation regulates these cells' differentiation, functions and viability. Recent studies show that glial cells also express cannabinoid-like receptors, and that their activation regulates different cell functions, but also control cell viability. This review summarizes this evidence, and discusses how selective compounds targeting cannabinoid-like receptors constitute promising therapeutics to manage neuroinflammation and eradicate malignant astrocytomas. Importantly, the selective targeting of cannabinoid-like receptors should provide therapeutic relieve without inducing the typical psychotropic effects and possible addictive properties associated with the use of Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychotropic ingredient produced by the plant Cannabis sativa.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / metabolism*
  • Astrocytoma / metabolism*
  • Cannabinoids / chemistry
  • Cannabinoids / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Microglia / metabolism*
  • Models, Neurological
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / metabolism*
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2 / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / metabolism*


  • Cannabinoids
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2
  • Receptors, Cell Surface