Prog Retin Eye Res. 2008 Sep;27(5):501-26. Epub 2008 Aug 3.
Endocannabinoids in the Retina: From Marijuana to Neuroprotection.
Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-5230, United States. stephen.
The active component of the marijuana plant Cannabis sativa, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), produces numerous beneficial effects, including analgesia, appetite stimulation and nausea reduction, in addition to its psychotropic effects. THC mimics the action of endogenous fatty acid derivatives, referred to as endocannabinoids. The effects of THC and the endocannabinoids are mediated largely by metabotropic receptors that are distributed throughout the nervous and peripheral organ systems. There is great interest in endocannabinoids for their role in neuroplasticity as well as for therapeutic use in numerous conditions, including pain, stroke, cancer, obesity, osteoporosis, fertility, neurodegenerative diseases, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma and inflammatory diseases, among others. However, there has been relatively far less research on this topic in the eye and retina compared with the brain and other organ systems. The purpose of this review is to introduce the "cannabinergic" field to the retinal community. All of the fundamental works on cannabinoids have been performed in non-retinal preparations, necessitating extensive dependence on this literature for background. Happily, the retinal cannabinoid system has much in common with other regions of the central nervous system. For example, there is general agreement that cannabinoids suppress dopamine release and presynaptically reduce transmitter release from cones and bipolar cells. How these effects relate to light and dark adaptations, receptive field formation, temporal properties of ganglion cells or visual perception are unknown. The presence of multiple endocannabinoids, degradative enzymes with their bioactive metabolites, and receptors provides a broad spectrum of opportunities for basic research and to identify targets for therapeutic application to retinal diseases.
PMCID: PMC2584875, PMID: 18725316 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Pharmacol Rev. 2006 Sep;58(3):389-462.
The Endocannabinoid System as an Emerging Target of Pharmacotherapy.
Pacher P, Bátkai S, Kunos G.
Laboratory of Physiological Studies, National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health, 5625 Fishers Lane, Room 2S-24, Bethesda, MD 20892-9413, USA.
The recent identification of cannabinoid receptors and their endogenous lipid ligands has triggered an exponential growth of studies exploring the endocannabinoid system and its regulatory functions in health and disease. Such studies have been greatly facilitated by the introduction of selective cannabinoid receptor antagonists and inhibitors of endocannabinoid metabolism and transport, as well as mice deficient in cannabinoid receptors or the endocannabinoid-degrading enzyme fatty acid amidohydrolase. In the past decade, the endocannabinoid system has been implicated in a growing number of physiological functions, both in the central and peripheral nervous systems and in peripheral organs. More importantly, modulating the activity of the endocannabinoid system turned out to hold therapeutic promise in a wide range of disparate diseases and pathological conditions, ranging from mood and anxiety disorders, movement disorders such as Parkinson's and Huntington's disease, neuropathic pain, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury, to cancer, atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, stroke, hypertension, glaucoma, obesity/metabolic syndrome, and osteoporosis, to name just a few. An impediment to the development of cannabinoid medications has been the socially unacceptable psychoactive properties of plant-derived or synthetic agonists, mediated by CB(1) receptors. However, this problem does not arise when the therapeutic aim is achieved by treatment with a CB(1) receptor antagonist, such as in obesity, and may also be absent when the action of endocannabinoids is enhanced indirectly through blocking their metabolism or transport. The use of selective CB(2) receptor agonists, which lack psychoactive properties, could represent another promising avenue for certain conditions. The abuse potential of plant-derived cannabinoids may also be limited through the use of preparations with controlled composition and the careful selection of dose and route of administration. The growing number of preclinical studies and clinical trials with compounds that modulate the endocannabinoid system will probably result in novel therapeutic approaches in a number of diseases for which current treatments do not fully address the patients' need. Here, we provide a comprehensive overview on the current state of knowledge of the endocannabinoid system as a target of pharmacotherapy.
PMCID: PMC2241751, PMID: 16968947 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Br J Ophthalmol. 2004 May;88(5):708-13.
Cannabinoids and Glaucoma.
Tomida I, Pertwee RG, Azuara-Blanco A.
Department of Ophthalmology, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, University of Aberdeen, UK.
Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the world. In spite of the diverse therapeutic possibilities, new and better treatments for glaucoma are highly desirable. Cannabinoids effectively lower the intraocular pressure (IOP) and have neuroprotective actions. Thus, they could potentially be useful in the treatment of glaucoma. The purpose of this article is to provide the reader with an overview of the latest achievements in research into the potential use of cannabinoids for glaucoma.
PMCID: PMC1772142, PMID: 15090428 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]