Cannabinoids have been reported to alter the activities of immune cells in vitro and in vivo. These compounds may serve as ideal agents for adjunct treatment of pathological processes that have a neuroinflammatory component. As highly lipophilic molecules, they readily access the brain. Furthermore, they have relatively low toxicity and can be engineered to selectively target cannabinoid receptors. To date, two cannabinoid receptors have been identified, characterized and designated CB1 and CB2. CB1 appears to be constitutively expressed within the CNS while CB2 apparently is induced during inflammation. The inducible nature of CB2 extends to microglia, the resident macrophages of the brain that play a critical role during early stages of inflammation in that compartment. Thus, the cannabinoid-cannabinoid receptor system may prove therapeutically manageable in ablating neuropathogenic disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, HIV encephalitis, closed head injury, and granulomatous amebic encephalitis.
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