Author(s): Roche M, Finn DP
Although previously thought of as the peripheral cannabinoid receptor, it is now accepted that the CB2 receptor is expressed in the central nervous system on microglia, astrocytes and subpopulations of neurons. Expression of the CB2 receptor in the brain is significantly lower than that of the CB1 receptor. Conflicting findings have been reported on the neurological effects of pharmacological agents targeting the CB2 receptor under normal conditions. Under inflammatory conditions, CB2 receptor expression in the brain is enhanced and CB2 receptor agonists exhibit potent anti-inflammatory effects. These findings have prompted research into the CB2 receptor as a possible target for the treatment of neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative disorders. Neuroinflammatory alterations are also associated with neuropsychiatric disorders and polymorphisms in the CB2 gene have been reported in depression, eating disorders and schizophrenia. This review will examine the evidence to date for a role of brain CB2 receptors in neuropsychiatric disorders.