Electrophysiological Effects of Cannabinoids in the Basal Ganglia

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Abstract

The hemp plant contains more than 416 chemicals of which more than 60 are cannabinoids (Turner. 1984). These compounds have been known for their therapeutic and psychoactive properties for at least 4000 years. The principal rleuroactive constituent is Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-TAC), often used as the prototype of the entire cannabinoid family due to its presence in derivatives ofcannabis sativa(marijuana and hashish) used by humans recreationally. Δ9-THC is, like other cannabinoids, highly lipophilic and for some time cannabinoid actions were thought to be mediated by nonspecific disruption of cellular membranes, which may inhibit or stimulate membrane-associated enzymes and alter ion channels (Hillardet al..1985; Martin, 1986; Felderet al..1992). However, in the early ‘80s, cannabinoid receptors have been cloned (Matsudaet al., 1990), localized in rodent brain (Herkenhametal.,1990; Matsudaetal.,1993 and periphery (Munroet aí.,1993), and putative endogenous ligands identified (Mechoulam and Hanus 2000; Martinet al., 1999 and references therein). Today unanimous consensus exists regarding most, but not all, cannabinoid effects as receptor-mediated through Gprotein-coupled CB1 and CB2 receptors, spectively.