Cannabinoid signalling in embryonic and adult neurogenesis: possible implications for psychiatric and neurological disorders

Acta Neuropsychiatr. 2019 Feb;31(1):1-16. doi: 10.1017/neu.2018.11. Epub 2018 May 16.


Cannabinoid signalling modulates several aspects of brain function, including the generation and survival of neurons during embryonic and adult periods. The present review intended to summarise evidence supporting a role for the endocannabinoid system on the control of neurogenesis and neurogenesis-dependent functions. Studies reporting participation of cannabinoids on the regulation of any step of neurogenesis and the effects of cannabinoid compounds on animal models possessing neurogenesis-dependent features were selected from Medline. Qualitative evaluation of the selected studies indicated that activation of cannabinoid receptors may change neurogenesis in embryonic or adult nervous systems alongside rescue of phenotypes in animal models of different psychiatric and neurological disorders. The text offers an overview on the effects of cannabinoids on central nervous system development and the possible links with psychiatric and neurological disorders such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, brain ischaemia/stroke and Alzheimer's disease. An understanding of the mechanisms by which cannabinoid signalling influences developmental and adult neurogenesis will help foster the development of new therapeutic strategies for neurodevelopmental, psychiatric and neurological disorders.

Keywords: cannabinoids; neurogenesis; neurology; psychiatric disorders.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Central Nervous System* / growth & development
  • Central Nervous System* / metabolism
  • Central Nervous System* / physiopathology
  • Endocannabinoids / physiology*
  • Mental Disorders* / metabolism
  • Mental Disorders* / physiopathology
  • Nervous System Diseases* / metabolism
  • Nervous System Diseases* / physiopathology
  • Neurogenesis / physiology*
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Endocannabinoids
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid