GPR55 has recently attracted much attention as another member of the cannabinoid family, potentially explaining physiological effects that are non-CB1/CB2 mediated. However, the data gathered so far are conflicting with respect to its pharmacology. We review the primary literature to date on GPR55, describing its discovery, structure, pharmacology and potential physiological functions. The CB1 receptor antagonist/inverse agonist AM251 has been shown to be a GPR55 agonist in all reports in which it was evaluated, as has the lysophospholipid, lysophosphatidylinositol (LPI). Whether GPR55 responds to the endocannabinoid ligands anandamide and 2-arachidonylglycerol and the phytocannabinoids, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabidiol and cannabidiol, is cell-type and tissue-dependent. GPR55 has been shown to utilize Gq, G12, or G13 for signal transduction; RhoA and phospholipase C are activated. Experiments with mice in which GPR55 has been inactivated reveal a role for this receptor in neuropathic and inflammatory pain as well as in bone physiology. Thus delineating the pharmacology of this receptor and the discovery of selective agonists and antagonists merits further study and could lead to new therapeutics.
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