Background: Chronic kidney disease (CKD) remains a major challenge for Public Health
systems and corresponds to the replacement of renal functional tissue by extra-cellular matrix proteins
such as collagens and fibronectin. There is no efficient treatment to date for CKD except nephroprotective
strategies. The cannabinoid system and more specifically the cannabinoid receptors 1 (CB1)
and 2 (CB2) may represent a new therapeutic target in CKD.
Methods: We performed PubMed searches using the terms “cannabinoid receptors” in combination
with “kidney” or ”renal disease” or “nephropathy” or “diabetes” or ”renal fibrosis” or ”cellular pathways”
in various combinations. We analyzed full-text English-language papers. We also searched the
reference lists of identified articles for further relevant papers.
Results: We gathered data regarding the current state of knowledge on the cannabinoid system in
normal renal physiology and in various experimental nephropathies, especially diabetes. We also reviewed
data obtained in models of diabetes and obesity as well as in non metabolic models of renal
fibrosis when CB1 blockers and/or CB2 agonists were used. We also found that very few data are
available so far regarding the cellular pathways involved downstream of the cannabinoid receptors in
the development of renal fibrosis.
Conclusion: Overall, we found that the cannabinoid receptors are a promising target in the development
of renal disease and fibrosis, particularly in CKD and diabetes.