The psychoactive properties of cannabinoids, the biologically active constituents of the marijuana plant, have long been recognized. Recent research has revealed that cannabinoids elicit not only neurobehavioral, and immunological, but also profound cardiovascular effects. Similar effects can be elicited by the endogenous ligand arachidonyl ethanolamine (anandamide) and 2-arachidonoyl-glycerol. The biological effects of cannabinoids are mediated by specific receptors. Two cannabinoid receptors have been identified so far: CB1-receptors are expressed by different cells of the brain and in peripheral tissues, while CB2-receptors were found almost exclusively in immune cells. Through the use of a selective CB1 receptor antagonist and CB1 receptor-knockout mice the hypotensive and bradycardic effects of cannabinoids in rodents could be attributed to activation of peripheral CB1 receptors. In hemodynamic studies using the radioactive microsphere technique in anesthetized rats, cannabinoids were found to be potent CB1-receptor dependent vasodilators in the coronary and cerebrovascular beds. Recent findings implicate the endogenous cannabinoid system in the pathomechanism of haemorrhagic, endotoxic and cardiogenic shock. Finally, there is evidence that the extreme mesenteric vasodilation, portal hypertension and systemic hypotension present in advanced liver cirrhosis are also mediated by the endocannabinoid system. These exciting, recent research developments indicate that the endogenous cannabinoid system plays an important role in cardiovascular regulation, and pharmacological manipulation of this system may offer novel therapeutic approaches in a variety of pathological conditions.
|Translated title of the contribution||Cardiovascular effects of cannabinoids|
|Number of pages||6|
|Publication status||Published - Jun 30 2002|
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