Purpose of review: The endocannabinoid system modulates cell signaling targets that are essential for energy homeostasis. Endocannabinoids bind to G protein-coupled receptors in the central nervous system and periphery, including the kidney. Modulation of cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) and CB2 activity in the kidney in diabetes and obesity has been identified as potential therapeutic target to reduce albuminuria and renal fibrosis. This review will highlight the results of recent studies that have identified a role for CB1 and CB2 in normal and pathological renal conditions.
Recent findings: CB1 and CB2 have been reported to play key roles in renal function and dysfunction. Recent studies have determined that antagonism of CB1 and agonism of CB2 in diabetic nephropathy and obesity associated kidney disease can reduce albuminuria, potentially by acting on both the glomeruli and tubules. Emerging studies have also identified a role for CB1 in renal diseases associated with fibrosis, with CB1 upregulated in multiple models of human nephropathies.
Summary: Emerging studies using isolated cells, rodent models, and human studies have identified a critical role for the endocannabinoid system in renal function and disease. Thus, therapeutics that modulate the activity of CB1 and CB2 in renal disease could become clinically relevant.