Potential antipsychotic properties of central cannabinoid (CB1) receptor antagonists

Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC), the principal psychoactive constituent of the Cannabis sativa plant, and other agonists at the central cannabinoid (CB1) receptor may induce characteristic psychomotor effects, psychotic reactions and cognitive impairment resembling schizophrenia. These effects of Δ9-THC can be reduced in animal and human models of psychopathology by two exogenous cannabinoids, cannabidiol (CBD) and SR141716. CBD is the second most abundant constituent of Cannabis sativa that has weak partial antagonistic properties at the CB1 receptor. CBD inhibits the reuptake and hydrolysis of anandamide, the most important endogenous CB1 receptor agonist, and exhibits neuroprotective antioxidant activity. SR141716 is a potent and selective CB1 receptor antagonist. Since both CBD and SR141716 can reverse many of the biochemical, physiological and behavioural effects of CB1receptor agonists, it has been proposed that both CBD and SR141716 have antipsychotic properties. Various experimental studies in animals, healthy human volunteers, and schizophrenic patients support this notion. Moreover, recent studies suggest that cannabinoids such as CBD and SR141716 have a pharmacological profile similar to that of atypical antipsychotic drugs. In this review, both preclinical and clinical studies investigating the potential antipsychotic effects of both CBD and SR141716 are presented together with the possible underlying mechanisms of action.

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