The endocannabinoid system in guarding against fear, anxiety and stress

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2015 Dec;16(12):705-18. doi: 10.1038/nrn4036.


The endocannabinoid (eCB) system has emerged as a central integrator linking the perception of external and internal stimuli to distinct neurophysiological and behavioural outcomes (such as fear reaction, anxiety and stress-coping), thus allowing an organism to adapt to its changing environment. eCB signalling seems to determine the value of fear-evoking stimuli and to tune appropriate behavioural responses, which are essential for the organism's long-term viability, homeostasis and stress resilience; and dysregulation of eCB signalling can lead to psychiatric disorders. An understanding of the underlying neural cell populations and cellular processes enables the development of therapeutic strategies to mitigate behavioural maladaptation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anxiety* / metabolism
  • Anxiety* / therapy
  • Central Nervous System / cytology
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism*
  • Endocannabinoids / metabolism
  • Fear* / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Stress, Psychological* / metabolism
  • Stress, Psychological* / therapy


  • Endocannabinoids