Significant Strides in Cannabinoid Receptor Research
In 1999, researcher Lisa Matsuda announced her work on behalf of the National Institute of Mental Health. She had discovered the DNA sequence that encoded the THC-sensitive receptor inside of a rat’s brain. We have the same cannabinoid receptors in our brains that are activated by THC. Cannabinoid receptors work as sensing devices that are consistently picking up on biochemical cues that flow throughout the cell’s surroundings. The first cannabinoid receptor scientists were able to identify was named CB1. They were able to locate CB1 receptors which were populated throughout the brain, with significant concentrations in the cerebellum (coordination), cerebral cortex (higher cognition), hippocampus (memory), amygdala (emotions), hypothalamus (appetite), basal ganglia (movement), and more.
Matsuda successfully cloned CB1 receptors which led to the discovery of molecules which worked as agonists and antagonists. This also facilitated the identification of a second cannabinoid receptor called CB2. This secondary cannabinoid receptor is densely located throughout bones, gut, spleen, heart, liver, blood vessels, kidneys, endocrine glands, reproductive organs, and lymph cells. Scientists concluded that CB1 receptors modulate psychoactivity while CB2 receptors regulate the body’s immune system response.