Background: Starting from the chemical structure of phytocannabinoids, isolated from Cannabis sativa plant, research groups designed numerous cannabimimetic drugs. These compounds according to their activities can be partial, full agonists and antagonists of cannabinoid receptors. Anecdotal reports and scientific studies described beneficial properties of cannabinoids and their derivatives in several pathological conditions like neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders, and in many other diseases ranging from cancer, atherosclerosis, stroke, hypertension, inflammatory related disorders, and autoimmune diseases.
Methods: In this study, starting from the endocannabinoid mechanism of action in neuronal signaling, we highlight and discuss potential application and recent patents of cannabimimetic drugs in neurological disorders.
Results: The cannabinoid CB1 receptor was considered particularly interesting for therapeutic approaches in neurological diseases, because primarily expressed by neurons of the central nervous system. In many experimental models, these drugs act via this receptor, however, CB1 receptor independent mechanisms have been also described. Furthermore, endogenous ligands of cannabinoid receptors, the endocannabinoids, are potent modulators of the synaptic function in the brain. In neurological diseases, numerous studies reported modulation of the levels of endocannabinoids according to the phase of the disease and its progression.
Conclusions: Finally, although the study of the mechanisms of action of these compounds is still unsolved, many reports and patents strongly suggest therapeutic potential of these compounds in neurological diseases.