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Peripheral analgesia involves cannabinoid receptors 

Peripheral analgesia involves cannabinoid receptors
Peripheral analgesia involves cannabinoid receptors

Julie Desroches

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date: 16 January 2021

This landmark paper by Agarwal and colleagues was published in 2007, when the exact contribution of the activation of the cannabinoid type 1 receptor (CB1) receptors expressed on the peripheral terminals of nociceptors in pain modulation was still uncertain. At that time, while it was clearly demonstrated that the central nervous system (CNS) was involved in the antinociceptive effects induced by the activation of the CB1 receptor, many strains of mice in which the gene encoding the CB1 receptor was deleted by conditional mutagenesis were used to study the specific role of these receptors in pain. Creating an ingenious model of genetically modified mice with a conditional deletion of the CB1 receptor gene exclusively in the peripheral nociceptors, Agarwal and colleagues were the first to unequivocally demonstrate the major role of this receptor in the control of pain at the peripheral level. In fact, these mutant mice lacking CB1 receptors only in sensory neurons (those expressing the sodium channel Nav1.8) have been designed to highlight that CB1 receptors on nociceptors, and not those within the CNS, constitute an important target for mediating local or systemic (but not intrathecal) cannabinoid analgesia. Overall, they have clarified the anatomical locus of cannabinoid-induced analgesia, highlighted the potential significance of peripheral CB1-mediated cannabinoid analgesia, and revealed important insights into how the peripheral endocannabinoid system works in controlling both inflammatory pain and neuropathic pain.

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