Endocannabinoids: Effectors of glucocorticoid signaling

Front Neuroendocrinol. 2017 Oct:47:86-108. doi: 10.1016/j.yfrne.2017.07.005. Epub 2017 Jul 21.


For decades, there has been speculation regarding the interaction of cannabinoids with glucocorticoid systems. Given the functional redundancy between many of the physiological effects of glucocorticoids and cannabinoids, it was originally speculated that the biological mechanisms of cannabinoids were mediated by direct interactions with glucocorticoid systems. With the discovery of the endocannabinoid system, additional research demonstrated that it was actually the opposite; glucocorticoids recruit endocannabinoid signaling, and that the engagement of endocannabinoid signaling mediated many of the neurobiological and physiological effects of glucocorticoids. With the development of advances in pharmacology and genetics, significant advances in this area have been made, and it is now clear that functional interactions between these systems are critical for a wide array of physiological processes. The current review acts a comprehensive summary of the contemporary state of knowledge regarding the biological interactions between glucocorticoids and endocannabinoids, and their potential role in health and disease.

Keywords: Endocannabinoids; Gene transcription; Glucocorticoids; Memory; Non-genomic signaling; Obesity; Reproduction; Reward; Stress.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Endocannabinoids / metabolism*
  • Glucocorticoids / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / metabolism
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Endocannabinoids
  • Glucocorticoids

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