Visualisation of the endocannabinoid signaling system
Visualization of the endocannabinoid signaling system from Leanne C
A Master's Research Project submitted fo Masters of Science, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto. Developed in collaboration with Biomedical Communications, Department of Biology, University of Toronto at Mississauga, The Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids and with funding provided in part by the Quebec Pain Research Network.
The endocannabinoid signaling system is composed of the cannabinoid receptors; their endogenous ligands, the endocannabinoids; the enzymes that produce and inactivate the endocannabinoids; and the endocannabinoid transporters. The endocannabinoids are a new family of lipidic signal mediators, which includes amides, esters, and ethers of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. Endocannabinoids signal through the same cell surface receptors that are targeted by Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9THC), the active principles of cannabis sativa preparations. The biosynthetic pathways for the synthesis and release of endocannabinoids are still rather uncertain. Unlike neurotransmitter molecules that are typically held in vesicles before synaptic release, endocannabinoids are synthesized on demand within the plasma membrane. Once released, they travel in a retrograde direction and transiently suppress presynaptic neurotransmitter release through activation of cannabinoid receptors. The endocannabinoid signaling system is being found to be involved in an increasing number of pathological conditions. In the brain, endocannabinoid signaling is mostly inhibitory and suggests a role for cannabinoids as therapeutic agents in central nervous system (CNS) disease. Their ability to modulate synaptic efficacy has a wide range of functional consequences and provides unique therapeutic possibilities. http://www.kingstoncompassion.org
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