The Endocannabinoid System and Alzheimer’s Disease
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The importance of the role of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in neurodegenerative diseases has grown during the past few years. Mostly because of the high density and wide distribution of cannabinoid receptors of the CB1 type in the central nervous system (CNS), much research focused on the function(s) that these receptors might play in pathophysiological conditions. Our current understanding, however, points to much diverse roles for this system. In particular, other elements of the ECS, such as the fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) or the CB2 cannabinoid receptor are now considered as promising pharmacological targets for some diseases and new cannabinoids have been incorporated as therapeutic tools. Although still preliminary, recent reports suggest that the modulation of the ECS may constitute a novel approach for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Data obtained in vitro, as well as in animal models for this disease and in human samples seem to corroborate the notion that the activation of the ECS, through the use of agonists or by enhancing the endogenous cannabinoid tone, may induce beneficial effects on the evolution of this disease.
KeywordsEndocannabinoid system Alzheimer’s disease Animal models
The authors’ work is supported by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science (MEC-SAF 2004/00237) and by Mapfre Foundation.
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