Type‐1 cannabinoid receptors and their ever‐expanding roles in brain energy processes

Ignacio Fernández‐Moncada, Rui S. Rodrigues, Unai B. Fundazuri, Luigi Bellocchio, Giovanni Marsicano
Journal of Neurochemistry. 2023-07-28; :
DOI: 10.1111/jnc.15922

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The brain requires large quantities of energy to sustain its functions. At the same time, the brain is isolated from the rest of the body, forcing this organ to develop strategies to control and fulfill its own energy needs. Likely based on these constraints, several brain‐specific mechanisms emerged during evolution. For example, metabolically specialized cells are present in the brain, where intercellular metabolic cycles are organized to separate workload and optimize the use of energy. To orchestrate these strategies across time and space, several signaling pathways control the metabolism of brain cells. One of such controlling systems is the endocannabinoid system, whose main signaling hub in the brain is the type‐1 cannabinoid (CB1) receptor. CB1 receptors govern a plethora of different processes in the brain, including cognitive function, emotional responses, or feeding behaviors. Classically, the mechanisms of action of CB1 receptors on brain function had been explained by its direct targeting of neuronal synaptic function. However, new discoveries have challenged this view. In this review, we will present and discuss recent data about how a small fraction of CB1 receptors associated to mitochondrial membranes (mtCB1), are able to exert a powerful control on brain functions and behavior. mtCB1 receptors impair mitochondrial functions both in neurons and astrocytes. In the latter cells, this effect is linked to an impairment of astrocyte glycolytic function, resulting in specific behavioral outputs. Finally, we will discuss the potential implications of (mt)CB1 expression on oligodendrocytes and microglia metabolic functions, with the aim to encourage interdisciplinary approaches to better understand the role of (mt)CB1 receptors in brain function and behavior.image

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