Advances in the Understanding of the Cannabinoid Receptor 1 - Focusing on the Inverse Agonists Interactions

Curr Med Chem. 2019;26(10):1908-1919. doi: 10.2174/0929867325666180417165247.


Background: Cannabinoid Receptor 1 (CB1) is a membrane protein prevalent in the central nervous system, whose crystallographic structure has recently been solved. Studies will be needed to investigate CB1 complexes with its ligands and its role in the development of new drugs.

Objective: Our goal here is to review the studies on CB1, starting with general aspects and focusing on the recent structural studies, with emphasis on the inverse agonists bound structures.

Methods: We start with a literature review, and then we describe recent studies on CB 1 crystallographic structure and docking simulations. We use this structural information to depict protein-ligand interactions. We also describe the molecular docking method to obtain complex structures of CB 1 with inverse agonists.

Results: Analysis of the crystallographic structure and docking results revealed the residues responsible for the specificity of the inverse agonists for CB 1. Most of the intermolecular interactions involve hydrophobic residues, with the participation of the residues Phe 170 and Leu 359 in all complex structures investigated in the present study. For the complexes with otenabant and taranabant, we observed intermolecular hydrogen bonds involving residues His 178 (otenabant) and Thr 197 and Ser 383 (taranabant).

Conclusion: Analysis of the structures involving inverse agonists and CB 1 revealed the pivotal role played by residues Phe 170 and Leu 359 in their interactions and the strong intermolecular hydrogen bonds highlighting the importance of the exploration of intermolecular interactions in the development of novel inverse agonists.

Keywords: Cannabinoid receptor; GPCR.; docking; drug design; inverse agonist; membrane protein.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cannabinoid Receptor Agonists / chemistry
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Agonists / metabolism*
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Drug Inverse Agonism
  • Humans
  • Leucine / chemistry
  • Ligands
  • Molecular Docking Simulation
  • Phenylalanine / chemistry
  • Protein Binding
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / agonists*
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / chemistry
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / metabolism*


  • Cannabinoid Receptor Agonists
  • Ligands
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1
  • Phenylalanine
  • Leucine