Cannabinoid CB1 receptor immunoreactivity in the prefrontal cortex: Comparison of schizophrenia and major depressive disorder

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2010 Sep;35(10):2060-71. doi: 10.1038/npp.2010.75. Epub 2010 Jun 16.


We recently showed that measures of cannabinoid 1 receptor (CB1R) mRNA and protein were significantly reduced in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) area 9 in schizophrenia subjects relative to matched normal comparison subjects. However, other studies have reported unaltered or higher measures of CB1R levels in schizophrenia. To determine whether these discrepancies reflect differences across brain regions or across subject groups (eg, presence of depression, cannabis exposure, etc), we used immunocytochemical techniques to determine whether lower levels of CB1R immunoreactivity are (1) present in another DLPFC region, area 46, in the same subjects with schizophrenia, (2) present in area 46 in a new cohort of schizophrenia subjects, (3) present in major depressive disorder (MDD) subjects, or (4) attributable to factors other than a diagnosis of schizophrenia, including prior cannabis use. CB1R immunoreactivity levels in area 46 were significantly 19% lower in schizophrenia subjects relative to matched normal comparison subjects, a deficit similar to that observed in area 9 in the same subjects. In a new cohort of subjects, CB1R immunoreactivity levels were significantly 20 and 23% lower in schizophrenia subjects relative to matched comparison and MDD subjects, respectively. The lower levels of CB1R immunoreactivity in schizophrenia subjects were not explained by other factors such as cannabis use, suicide, or pharmacological treatment. In addition, CB1R immunoreactivity levels were not altered in monkeys chronically exposed to haloperidol. Thus, the lower levels of CB1R immunoreactivity may be common in schizophrenia, conserved across DLPFC regions, not present in MDD, and not attributable to other factors, and thus a reflection of the underlying disease process.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Antipsychotic Agents / pharmacology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / pathology*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Haloperidol / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prefrontal Cortex / metabolism*
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / metabolism*
  • Schizophrenia / pathology*


  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1
  • Haloperidol