Cannabinoid Receptors, Mental Pain and Suicidal Behavior: a Systematic Review

  • Laura Colino
  • Javier Herranz-Herrer
  • Elena Gil-Benito
  • Teresa Ponte-Lopez
  • Pablo del Sol-Calderon
  • Maria Rodrigo-Yanguas
  • María Gil-Ligero
  • Antonio J. Sánchez-López
  • Jose de Leon
  • Hilario Blasco-Fontecilla
Mood Disorders (E Baca-Garcia, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Mood Disorders


Purpose of Review

The current serotonin-based biological model of suicidal behavior (SB) may be too simplistic. There is emerging evidence that other biomarkers and biological systems may be involved in SB pathophysiology. The literature on the endocannabinoid (EC) systems and SB is limited. The objective of the present article is to review all available information on the relationship between cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2 receptors), and SB and/or psychological pain.

Recent Findings

Our review is limited by the small number and heterogeneity of studies identified: (1) an autopsy study describing elevated levels of CB1 receptor activity in the prefrontal cortex and suicide in both depression and alcoholism and (2) studies supporting the involvement of both CB1 and CB2 receptors in the regulation of neuropathic pain and stress-induced analgesia.


We conclude that cannabinoid receptors, particularly CB1 receptors, may become promising targets for the development of novel therapeutic tools for the treatment of SB.


Cannabinoid receptors Suicidal behavior Mental pain Psychological pain 



The authors acknowledge Lorraine Maw, M.A., at the Mental Health Research Center at Eastern State Hospital, Lexington, KY, who helped in editing this article. This article was written for publication without any external funding.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Laura Colino, Javier Herranz-Herrer, Elena Gil-Benito, Teresa Ponte-Lopez, Pablo del Sol-Calderon, Maria Rodrigo-Yanguas, María Gil-Ligero, Antonio J Sánchez-López, and Jose de Leon declare no conflict of interest.

In the last 24 months Hilario Blasco-Fontecilla received lecture fees from AB-Biotics, Praxis Pharmaceuticals, and Shire.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura Colino
    • 1
  • Javier Herranz-Herrer
    • 1
  • Elena Gil-Benito
    • 1
  • Teresa Ponte-Lopez
    • 1
  • Pablo del Sol-Calderon
    • 1
  • Maria Rodrigo-Yanguas
    • 1
  • María Gil-Ligero
    • 2
  • Antonio J. Sánchez-López
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Jose de Leon
    • 5
    • 6
    • 7
  • Hilario Blasco-Fontecilla
    • 1
    • 8
    • 9
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryPuerta de Hierro University Hospital-Segovia de Arana Health Research Institute (IDIPHISA)MadridSpain
  2. 2.BiobankPuerta de Hierro University Hospital—IDIPHISAMadridSpain
  3. 3.Neuroimmunology UnitPuerta de Hierro University Hospital Segovia de Arana Health Research Institute (IDIPHISA)MadridSpain
  4. 4.Multiple Sclerosis Spanish Net (REEM)MadridSpain
  5. 5.Mental Health Research Center at Eastern State HospitalLexingtonUSA
  6. 6.Psychiatry and Neurosciences Research Group (CTS-549), Institute of NeurosciencesUniversity of GranadaGranadaSpain
  7. 7.Biomedical Research Centre in Mental Health Net (CIBERSAM), Santiago Apóstol HospitalUniversity of the Basque CountryVitoriaSpain
  8. 8.CIBERSAMMadridSpain
  9. 9.Madrid Autonoma UniversityMadridSpain

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