Therapeutic potential of cannabinoids in schizophrenia

Recent Pat CNS Drug Discov. 2014 Apr;9(1):13-25. doi: 10.2174/1574889809666140307115532.


Increasing evidence suggests a close relationship between the endocannabinoid system and schizophrenia. The endocannabinoid system comprises of two G protein-coupled receptors (the cannabinoid receptors 1 and 2 [CB1 and CB2] for marijuana's psychoactive principle Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol), their endogenous small lipid ligands (namely anandamide [AEA] and 2-arachidonoylglycerol [2-AG], also known as endocannabinoids), and proteins for endocannabinoid biosynthesis and degradation. It has been suggested to be a pro-homeostatic and pleiotropic signalling system activated in a time- and tissue-specific manner during pathophysiological conditions. In the brain, activation of this system impacts the release of numerous neurotransmitters in various systems and cytokines from glial cells. Hence, the endocannabinoid system is strongly involved in neuropsychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia. Therefore, adolescence use of Cannabis may alter the endocannabinoid signalling and pose a potential environmental risk to develop psychosis. Consistently, preclinical and clinical studies have found a dysregulation in the endocannabinoid system such as changed expression of CB1 and CB2 receptors or altered levels of AEA and 2-AG . Thus, due to the partial efficacy of actual antipsychotics, compounds which modulate this system may provide a novel therapeutic target for the treatment of schizophrenia. The present article reviews current available knowledge on herbal, synthetic and endogenous cannabinoids with respect to the modulation of schizophrenic symptomatology. Furthermore, this review will be highlighting the therapeutic potential of cannabinoid-related compounds and presenting some promising patents targeting potential treatment options for schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antipsychotic Agents / metabolism
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators / therapeutic use*
  • Cannabinoids / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Schizophrenia / drug therapy*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects


  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators
  • Cannabinoids