Brazilian Journal of Pain
https://brjp.org.br/article/doi/10.5935/2595-0118.20230028-en
Brazilian Journal of Pain
Review Article

The cannabinoids mechanism of action: an overview

Mecanismo de ação dos canabinoides: visão geral

Mauro Araújo; Mauro Brito Almeida; Luiza Lamartine Nogueira Araújo

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Abstract

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: The discovery of the psychoactive agent of Cannabis sativa (tetrahydrocannabinol - THC) in the second half of the 20th century originated the research that later came to identify dozens of other substances from this plant, including cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids. Ensuing description of their interaction sites in animals and humans, together with endogenous ligands, transport proteins as well as synthesis and degradation enzymes, revealed what came to be known as the endocannabinoid system. Several receptors participate in this system. 
CONTENTS: The first receptors to be discovered were called CB1 and CB2, both are G protein-coupled (GPCR). It is noteworthy that CB1 receptors are among the most abundant and widely distributed GPCR in the mammalian brain, with marked expression in basal ganglia, cerebellum and hippocampus, for instance; on the other hand, they are scarce in areas of the brainstem related to breathing control. In light of the multiplicity of pharmacological effects of cannabinoids, concomitant with the lack of more clarifying studies on their mechanisms of action despite the great interest in research on their therapeutic application, it is necessary to deepen the knowledge in this area. 
CONCLUSION: Considering the literature research conducted for the composition of this article, it is possible to conclude that cannabinoids have a broad spectrum of action mechanisms in the human body, and that more robust clinical studies are needed to better understand their broad therapeutic potential.

Keywords

Cannabis, Cannabinoid receptor agonists, Cannabinoid receptor antagonists, Cannabinoids, Modulators, Neurobiology

Resumo

JUSTIFICATIVA E OBJETIVOS: A descoberta do princípio psicoativo da Cannabis sativa (tetrahidrocanabinol - THC) na segunda metade do século XX inaugurou pesquisas que posteriormente vieram a identificar dezenas de outras substâncias a partir dessa planta, incluindo canabinoides, terpenos e flavonoides. A subsequente descrição dos sítios de interação dessas substâncias em animais e humanos, assim como seus ligantes endógenos, proteínas de transporte e enzimas de síntese e degradação, revelou o que veio a ser conhecido como sistema endocanabinoide. Diversos receptores participam deste sistema. 
CONTEÚDO: Os primeiros receptores a serem descobertos foram denominados CB1 e CB2, ambos são acoplados à proteína G (GPCR). É importante ressaltar que os receptores CB1 estão entre os GPCRs mais abundantes e amplamente distribuídos do encéfalo de mamíferos, com marcada expressão, por exemplo, em gânglios da base, cerebelo e hipocampo; em contrapartida, são escassos em áreas do tronco cerebral relacionadas ao controle da respiração. Diante da multiplicidade de efeitos farmacológicos dos canabinoides, concomitante à falta de estudos mais esclarecedores sobre seus mecanismos de ação apesar do grande interesse na pesquisa de sua aplicação terapêutica, é preciso aprofundar o conhecimento nessa área. 
CONCLUSÃO: Considerando as pesquisas bibliográficas realizadas para a composição deste artigo, é possível concluir que os canabinoides possuem um amplo espectro de mecanismos de ação no organismo humano, e que mais estudos clínicos robustos são necessários para que seja possível entender melhor o seu amplo potencial terapêutico.

Palavras-chave

Agonistas de receptores de canabinoides, Antagonistas de receptores de canabinoides, Cannabis, Canabinoides, Moduladores, Neurobiologia

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Submitted date:
08/13/2022

Accepted date:
04/24/2023

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