Marijuana Withdrawal Syndrome in the Animal Model

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Although the proposition that repeated marijuana use can lead to marijuana dependence has long been accepted, only recently has evidence emerged suggesting that abstinence leads to clinically significant withdrawal symptoms. Converging evidence from human and animal studies has increased our understanding of cannabinoid dependence. One of the most powerful tools to advance this area of research is the CB1 cannabinoid receptor antagonist SR 141716A, which reliably precipitates withdrawal syndromes in mice, rats, and dogs that have been treated repeatedly with cannabinoids. In addition, the use ofCB1 receptor knockout mice has revealed that not only cannabinoid dependence is mediated through a CB1 receptor mechanism of action, but CB1 receptors also modulate opioid dependence. Moreover, the results of other genetically altered mouse models suggest the existence of a reciprocal relationship between cannabinoid and opioid systemsin drug dependence. Undoubtedly, these animal models will play pivotal roles in further characterizing cannabinoid dependence and elucidating the mechanisms of action, as well as developing potential pharmacotherapies for cannabinoid dependence.

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