Role of endocannabinoid signaling in anxiety and depression

Sachin Patel, Cecilia J. Hillard

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

45 Scopus citations


Cannabinoid receptors and their endogenous ligands are located throughout the limbic, or "emotional," brain, where they modulate synaptic neurotransmission. Converging preclinical and clinical data suggest a role for endogenous cannabinoid signaling in the modulation of anxiety and depression. Augmentation of endocannabinoid signaling (ECS) has anxiolytic effects, whereas blockade or genetic deletion of CB1 receptors has anxiogenic properties. Augmentation of ECS also appears to have anti-depressant actions, and in some assays blockade and genetic deletion of CB1 receptors produces depressive phenotypes. These data provide evidence that ECS serves in an anxiolytic, and possibly anti-depressant, role. These data suggest novel approaches to treatment of affective disorders which could include enhancement of endogenous cannabinoid signaling, and warrant cautious use of CB1 receptor antagonists in patients with pre-existing affective disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBehavioral Neurobiology of the Endocannabinoid System
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Number of pages25
ISBN (Print)9783540889540
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameCurrent Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences
ISSN (Print)1866-3370
ISSN (Electronic)1866-3389


  • Anandamide
  • Cannabinoid
  • Cannabis
  • Fatty acid amide hydrolase
  • Marijuana
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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