Cannabinoid Control of Olfactory Processes: The Where Matters
Cannabis exerts its mental and physical effects by producing chemicals called cannabinoids. In mammalian, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) include cannabinoid receptors type 1 (CB1) and type 2 (CB2), their endogenous ligands (endocannabinoids), and the enzymes that synthesize and degrades endocannabinoids. Most noticeably, the CB1 receptor is expressed ubiquitously in many olfactory brain structures. Over the last decade, research has proved that the CB1 receptor modulates various olfactory-related functions ranging from sensory perception to complex cognitive processes such as learning and memory.
Despite the current knowledge, a lot about the roles of ECS in general and CB1 receptors in particular in the olfactory system remained to be discovered. A better understanding of such interactions will not only advance the field of neuroscience, but also lead to novel medical applications. For instance, alterations of ECS functioning have been shown to underlie the development of neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders with symptomatic loss of smell. A detailed understanding of the interconnections between the ECS and olfactory areas could provide the rationale for a combined use of olfactory manipulations with ECS-based pharmacotherapy to potentially treat those conditions.