Cannabinoids are antinociceptive in animal models of acute pain, tissue injury and nerve injury induced nociception and act via their cognate receptors, cannabinoid receptor 1 and 2. This review examines the underlying biology of the endocannabinoids and behavioural, neurophysiological, neuroanatomical evidence supporting the notion of pain modulation by these ligands with a focus on the current evidence encompassing the pharmacological characterization of CB1 agonists in this therapy. Separating the psychotropic effects of CB1 agonists from their therapeutic benefits is the major challenge facing researchers in the field today and with the discovery of peripherally acting agonists there seems to be a ray of hope emerging for the diverse potential therapeutic applications of this class of ligands.
Keywords: Cannabis, CB1 receptor, endocannabinoid system, pain, SR141716A, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, ECS, MAP Kinase, GABA, AZ11713908, Dronabinol, Nabiximols, SAB-378, KeyNeurotek, Ajulemic Acid
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