Modulating Cannabinoid Receptors to Regulate Impulsive Behaviors

One of the main problems encountered by sufferers of diseases like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder is poor impulse control. Now, research by the Neuroscience Institute of Alicante suggests that impulsivity can be control by artificially modulating the endocannabinoid system.

The cannabinoid 2 receptor (CB2) has long been known to regulate a number of functions in the nervous system. A related receptor, cannabinoid 1, has already been linked to impulse control, but acting directly upon it has produced negative side effects. The Spanish team tested two chemicals on mice selected for highly impulsive behavior. One compound excited the receptor and the other blocked it.

Researchers concluded that modulating the CB2 receptor had a direct and profound effect on observed impulsivity, as well as structural cerebral changes. Furthermore, certain patterns of administration seemed to alter the genetic expression of the receptors toward a more "normal", non-impulsive level. This result continues a seven-year trend of discoveries that contradict the long-standing belief that CB2 was only peripherally-related to immune response.

The Alicante team is quick to admit that impulsive behavior can play an important role, both evolutionarily and in day-to-day life. It allows quick adaptation under circumstances that might not afford us the time to rationally assess our options. It can be pathological, however, if it becomes chronic or begins to trigger disproportionate responses.

The complete study has been published in the British Journal of Pharmacology.

Source: MedicalNewsToday.com

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