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Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2011 May;32(5):270-80. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2011 Apr 16.

Personalized medicine can pave the way for the safe use of CB₁ receptor antagonists.

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Kutvolgyi Clinical Centre, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary.


Antagonists of cannabinoid type-1 (CB₁) receptors have been explored as therapeutic agents for obesity and addiction. However, use of rimonabant (the first marketed CB₁ receptor antagonist) has been suspended due to its anxiogenic and depressive side effects (including suicide risk). Recent genomic studies provide evidence that variants of the CB₁ receptor gene (CNR1) alone or in combination with the gene of the serotonin transporter (SLC6A4) contribute to the development of anxiety and/or depression, suggesting that high-risk individuals could be identified through genetic testing. In this review, we argue that identification of high-risk individuals by a combination of genomic screening, previous risk phenotype, and environmental risk factors offers a promising method for the safe use of centrally acting CB₁ receptor antagonists. We summarize endocannabinoid signaling in pathways related to anxiety and depression, identify the serotonergic system as the most likely candidate to mediate the side effects of CB₁ receptor antagonists, and propose that poloymorphisms in CNR1, SLC6A4 and certain CYP 450 enzymes could help to identify individuals who may benefit from treatment with CB₁ receptor antagonist without psychiatric side effects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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