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Critical Reviews™ in Neurobiology

ISSN Print: 0892-0915

Archives: Volume 10, 1996 to Volume 20, 2008

Critical Reviews™ in Neurobiology

DOI: 10.1615/CritRevNeurobiol.v16.i12.170
pages 159-172

Cannabinoid/Opioid Crosstalk in the Central Nervous System

Javier Corchero
Departamento de Bioquimica y Biologia Molecular, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Extremadura, Badajoz, Spain
Jorge Manzanares
Servicio de Psiquiatria, Hospital Universitario 12 de Octubre, Madrid, Spain
Jose A. Fuentes
Departamento de Farmacologia, Facultad de Farmacia and Unidad de Cartografia Cerebral, Instituto Plurisciplinar, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain


Promising therapeutic uses and a great variety of pharmacological effects are the leading forces that focus actual cannabinoid research. Cannabinoid and opioid systems share neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and paharmacological features. This fact supports the notion that actions induced by each one of these types of drugs involved an interaction between the endogenous opioid and endocannabinoid neuronal systems. Over the last decade our group and others have investigated cannabinoid/opioid crosstalk in the central nervous system by studying the mechanisms underlying pharmacological and biochemical interactions between the two systems in experimental paradigms of antinociception, drug reinforcement, and anxiety. The goal of this review is to revise the latest work done on this subject, with special emphasis on the research done with genetically modified animals. Whereas clinical progress is going ahead slowly, basic research in this area is progressing rapidly. Clinical applications derived from the cannabinoid/opioid crosstalk and based tightly on medical evidence are yet to come, but it is hoped that knowledge of this central messenger interaction will help to develop new alternatives for the treatment of some pathological states.