Microglial Cannabinoid Type 1 Receptor Regulates Brain Inflammation in a Sex-Specific Manner

Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2021 Dec;6(6):488-507. doi: 10.1089/can.2020.0170. Epub 2021 Sep 29.


Background: Neuroinflammation is a key feature shared by most, if not all, neuropathologies. It involves complex biological processes that act as a protective mechanism to fight against the injurious stimuli, but it can lead to tissue damage if self-perpetuating. In this context, microglia, the main cellular actor of neuroinflammation in the brain, are seen as a double-edged sword. By phagocyting neuronal debris, these cells can not only provide tissue repair but can also contribute to neuronal damage by releasing harmful substances, including inflammatory cytokines. The mechanisms guiding these apparent opposing actions are poorly known. The endocannabinoid system modulates the release of inflammatory factors such as cytokines and could represent a functional link between microglia and neuroinflammatory processes. According to transcriptomic databases and in vitro studies, microglia, the main source of cytokines in pathological conditions, express the cannabinoid type 1 receptor (CB1R). Methods: We thus developed a conditional mouse model of CB1R deletion specifically in microglia, which was subjected to an immune challenge (peripheral lipopolysaccharide injection). Results: Our results reveal that microglial CB1R differentially controls sickness behavior in males and females. Conclusion: These findings add to the comprehension of neuroinflammatory processes and might be of great interest for future studies aimed at developing therapeutic strategies for brain disorders with higher prevalence in men.

Keywords: CB1 receptor; cytokine; inflammation; microglia; sickness behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cannabinoids*
  • Encephalitis*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Microglia
  • Neuroinflammatory Diseases
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid / genetics


  • Cannabinoids
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid