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Front. Mol. Neurosci. | doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2018.00424

Exploiting the multifaceted effects of cannabinoids on mood to boost their therapeutic use against anxiety and depression

  • 1Istituto Neurologico Mediterraneo (IRCCS), Italy
  • 2Università degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata, Italy

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) has been recently recognized as a prominent promoter of the emotional homeostasis, mediating the effects of different environmental signals including rewarding and stressing stimuli. The ECS modulates the rewarding effects of environmental stimuli, influencing synaptic transmission in the dopaminergic projections to the limbic system, and mediates the neurophysiological and behavioral consequences of stress. Notably, the individual psychosocial context is another key element modulating the activity of the ECS. Finally, inflammation represent an additional factor that could alter the cannabinoid signaling in the CNS inducing a “sickness behavior”, characterized by anxiety, anhedonia and depressive symptoms.
The complex influences of the ECS on both the environmental and internal stimuli processing, make the cannabinoid-based drugs an appealing option to treat different psychiatric conditions. Although ample experimental evidence shows beneficial effects of ECS modulation on mood, scarce clinical indication limits the use of cannabis-based treatments. To better define the possible clinical indications of cannabinoid-based drugs in psychiatry, a number of issues should be better addressed, including genetic variability and psychosocial factors possibly affecting the individual response. In particular, better knowledge of the multifaceted effects of cannabinoids could help to understand how to boost their therapeutic use in anxiety and depression treatment.

Keywords: Endocannabinoids (eCBs), Reward, Depression, Anxiety, Multiple Sclerosis, stress, EAE (experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis), Inflammation

Received: 27 Aug 2018; Accepted: 31 Oct 2018.

Edited by:

Ildikó Rácz, Universitätsklinikum Bonn, Germany

Reviewed by:

Wei Xiong, University of Science and Technology of China, China
Luis F. Callado, Universidad del País Vasco, Spain
Anissa Bara, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, United States  

Copyright: © 2018 Stampanoni Bassi, Gilio, Maffei, Dolcetti, Bruno, Buttari, Centonze and Iezzi. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Diego Centonze, Università degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata, Roma, 00173, Lazio, Italy, centonze@uniroma2.it