Cannabinoids as hippocampal network administrators

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Abstract

Extensive pioneering studies performed in the hippocampus have greatly contributed to our knowledge of an endogenous cannabinoid system comprised of the molecular machinery necessary to process endocannabinoid lipid messengers and their associated cannabinoid receptors. Moreover, a foundation of knowledge regarding the function of hippocampal circuits, and its role in supporting synaptic plasticity has facilitated our understanding of the roles cannabinoids play in the diverse behaviors in which the hippocampus participates, in both normal and pathological states. In this review, we present an historical overview of research pertaining to the hippocampal cannabinoid system to provide context in which to understand the participation of the hippocampus in cognition, behavior, and epilepsy. We also examine potential roles for the hippocampal formation in mediating dysfunctional behavior, and assert that these phenomena reflect disordered physiological activity within the hippocampus and its interactions with other brain regions after exposure to synthetic cannabinoids, and the phytocannabinoids found in marijuana, such as Δ9-THC and cannabidiol. In this regard, we examine contemporary hypotheses concerning the hippocampal endocannabinoid system’s participation in psychotic disorders, schizophrenia, and epilepsy, and examine cannabinoid-sensitive cellular mechanisms contributing to coherent network oscillations as potential contributors to these disorders.

This article is part of the Special Issue entitled “A New Dawn in Cannabinoid Neurobiology”.

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