Review

Endocannabinoids and Neuroprotection

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Science's STKE  23 Apr 2002:
Vol. 2002, Issue 129, pp. re5
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2002.129.re5

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Traumatic brain injury (TBI) causes the accumulation of harmful endogenous constituents in the brain, which may lead to secondary damage; protective mechanisms are also set in motion. Understanding the pathophysiology of secondary brain injury might lead to the development of novel therapeutic treatments for this common condition. The synthesis in the brain of the endogenous cannabinoids 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG) and anandamide is enhanced in mice and rats, respectively, after TBI and reduces brain damage. These compounds represent a new class of neuroprotective agents that have multiple mechanisms of action that may involve inhibition of transmitter release and of the inflammatory response and might improve the blood supply to the injured brain.