Expression and Function of the Endocannabinoid System in Glial Cells

Author(s): Paola Massi, Marta Valenti, Daniele Bolognini, Daniela Parolaro.

Journal Name: Current Pharmaceutical Design

Volume 14 , Issue 23 , 2008

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Abstract:

In the last few years the role and significance of the glia in CNS function and pathology have been drastically reassessed. Glial cells physiology appears very different in healthy versus pathological brain and the recent identification of cannabinoid receptors and their endogenous ligands in glia has triggered a number of studies exploring the role of (endo)cannabinoid system in glia functionality and disease. (Endo)cannabinoids exert their effects in these cells directly affecting some important peculiar functions of the glia and actively promoting biochemical signals ending in a prosurvival fate for these cells. By contrast, (endo)cannabinoids induce a selective death in glia-derived tumor cells. Of special physiological and therapeutic relevance is the reported ability of glial cells during neuropathological conditions to release an increased amount of endocannabinoids and to overexpress cannabinoid receptors. This evidence has suggested that the endocannabinoids production by glial cells may constitute an endogenous defense mechanism preventing the propagation of neuroinflammation and cell damage. The present paper will review the evidence supporting the regulatory role of (endo)cannabinoids in glia function, holding in consideration their therapeutic potential as neuroprotective and/or anticancer agents.

Keywords: Glia, microglia, astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, neuroprotection, cell survival, glioma

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Article Details

VOLUME: 14
ISSUE: 23
Year: 2008
Page: [2289 - 2298]
Pages: 10
DOI: 10.2174/138161208785740135
Price: $58

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