Elucidating the cellular action of endocannabinoids can assist in the understanding and discovery of the functional significance of cannabinoid receptors in the neural systems as well as uncovering the therapeutic usefulness of cannabinoids. The known cellular actions of cannabinoids include; effects on ion channels, inhibition of adenylyl cyclase, stimulation of mitogen-activated protein kinase, and the inhibition of phospholipase C which leads to arachidonic acid (AA) accumulation. Studies have show that both CB1 and CB2 receptors are coupled to the inhibition of adenylyl cyclase and the stimulation of mitogen-activated protein kinase through pertussis toxin-sensitive G proteins (Caulfied et al, 1993; Felder et al, 1992; Mackie and Hille, 1992; Schatz et al., 1992). However, the CB1 receptor mediates several ion channels while the CB2 receptor has not yet been shown to modulate the activity of ion channels. The observed cellular endocannabinoid effects are mediated, at least in part, by cannabinoid receptors (Di Marzo and Fontana, 1995; Felder et al., 1992; Makriyannis, 1995; Makriyannis and Rapaka, 1990; White and Tansik, 1980) and are summarized in Table 18.1.
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