CB1R-dependent regulation of astrocyte physiology and astrocyte-neuron interactions

Neuropharmacology. 2021 Sep 1;195:108678. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2021.108678. Epub 2021 Jun 19.


The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is involved in a variety of brain functions, mainly through the activation of the type-1 cannabinoid receptors (CB1R). CB1R are highly expressed throughout the brain at different structural, cellular and subcellular locations and its activity and expression levels have a direct impact in synaptic activity and behavior. In the last few decades, astrocytes have arisen as active players of brain physiology through their participation in the tripartite synapse and through their metabolic interaction with neurons. Here, we discuss some of the mechanisms by which astroglial CB1R at different subcellular locations, regulate astrocyte calcium signals and have an impact on gliotransmission and metabolic regulation. In addition, we discuss evidence pointing at astrocytes as potential important sources of endocannabinoid synthesis and release. Thus, we summarize recent findings that add further complexity and establish that the ECS is a fundamental effector of astrocyte functions in the brain. This article is part of the special issue on 'Cannabinoids'.

Keywords: Astrocyte-neuron communication; Astrocytes; Calcium; Cannabinoid receptor 1; Metabolism.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / metabolism*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Endocannabinoids / metabolism*
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / metabolism*
  • Synapses / metabolism
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology


  • Endocannabinoids
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1