Brain CB₂ Receptors: Implications for Neuropsychiatric Disorders

Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2010 Aug 10;3(8):2517-2553. doi: 10.3390/ph3082517.


Although previously thought of as the peripheral cannabinoid receptor, it is now accepted that the CB₂ receptor is expressed in the central nervous system on microglia, astrocytes and subpopulations of neurons. Expression of the CB₂ receptor in the brain is significantly lower than that of the CB₁ receptor. Conflicting findings have been reported on the neurological effects of pharmacological agents targeting the CB₂ receptor under normal conditions. Under inflammatory conditions, CB₂ receptor expression in the brain is enhanced and CB2 receptor agonists exhibit potent anti-inflammatory effects. These findings have prompted research into the CB₂ receptor as a possible target for the treatment of neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative disorders. Neuroinflammatory alterations are also associated with neuropsychiatric disorders and polymorphisms in the CB₂ gene have been reported in depression, eating disorders and schizophrenia. This review will examine the evidence to date for a role of brain CB₂ receptors in neuropsychiatric disorders.

Keywords: CB(2); depression; endocannabinoid; neurophysiology; schizophrenia; stress.

Publication types

  • Review