Control of Excessive Neural Circuit Excitability and Prevention of Epileptic Seizures by Endocannabinoid Signaling

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2018 Aug;75(15):2793-2811. doi: 10.1007/s00018-018-2834-8. Epub 2018 May 8.


Progress in research on endocannabinoid signaling has greatly advanced our understanding of how it controls neural circuit excitability in health and disease. In general, endocannabinoid signaling at excitatory synapses suppresses seizures by inhibiting glutamate release. In contrast, endocannabinoid signaling promotes seizures by inhibiting GABA release at inhibitory synapses. The physiological distribution of endocannabinoid signaling molecules becomes disrupted with the development of epileptic focus in patients with mesial temporal lobe epilepsy and in animal models of experimentally induced epilepsy. Augmentation of endocannabinoid signaling can promote the development of epileptic focus at initial stages. However, at later stages, increased endocannabinoid signaling delays it and suppresses spontaneous seizures. Thus, the regulation of endocannabinoid signaling at specific synapses that cause hyperexcitability during particular stages of disease development may be effective for treating epilepsy and epileptogenesis.

Keywords: 2-AG; CB1; Endocannabinoid; Epilepsy; Epileptogenesis; Seizure.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Endocannabinoids / metabolism
  • Endocannabinoids / therapeutic use*
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology
  • Epilepsy / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Neural Conduction / drug effects*
  • Neural Conduction / physiology
  • Seizures / physiopathology
  • Seizures / prevention & control*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Synapses / drug effects*
  • Synapses / physiology


  • Endocannabinoids