Reversing stress-induced anxietyJul. 21, 2014, 8:00 AM
Stress is a major risk factor for the development of mood and anxiety disorders. Mounting evidence suggests that deficits in signaling by endogenous cannabinoids (eCBs) – molecules that activate the same receptors turned on by the active ingredient in marijuana – contribute to stress-induced anxiety. Augmenting natural eCB signaling may be a promising approach for treating mood and anxiety disorders.
Sachin Patel, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues tested the role of anandamide signaling – a well-studied eCB – on acute stress-induced anxiety. Using two mouse models of anxiety-like behaviors, they found that inhibition of the anandamide-degrading enzyme FAAH reversed the stress-induced anxiety state. They also demonstrated that acute stress reduces overall levels of anandamide in the brain, and that low levels of anandamide correlate with higher anxiety-like behavioral measures.
The findings, reported July 8 in Translational Psychiatry, indicate that brain anandamide levels predict acute stress-induced anxiety, and that augmenting eCB signaling is a viable strategy for treating stress-related psychiatric disorders.
These studies were supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (MH090412, MH100096, MH064913, DA031572, GM015431).
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