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Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2017 Nov 1;313(5):F1124-F1132. doi: 10.1152/ajprenal.00290.2017. Epub 2017 Jul 26.

Cannabinoids and the kidney: effects in health and disease.

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College of Pharmacy, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, Tennessee.
Division of Nephrology, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, Tennessee.
Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, University of California-Irvine, Orange, California.
Nephrology Section, Long Beach VA Medical Center, Long Beach, California; and.
Division of Nephrology, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, Tennessee;
Nephrology Section, Memphis VA Medical Center, Memphis, Tennessee.


Consumption of cannabis and various related products (cannabinoids) for both medicinal and recreational use is gaining popularity. Furthermore, regulatory changes are fostering a cultural shift toward increasing liberalization of cannabis use, thereby increasing the likelihood of even larger numbers of individuals being exposed in the future. The two different types of receptors (CB1 and CB2) that are activated by the pharmacologically active ingredients of cannabis are found in numerous tissues, including the kidneys. Experimental studies suggest that stimulation of these receptors using pharmacologic agents or their naturally occurring ligands could have both deleterious and beneficial effects on the kidneys, depending on receptor distribution, type of renal insult, or the timing of the activation during acute or chronic states of kidney injury. To date, the mechanisms by which the CB1 or CB2 receptors are involved in the pathology of these renal conditions remain to be fully described. Furthermore, a better understanding of the impact of exocannabinoids and endocannabinoids on the renal system may lead to the development of new drugs to treat kidney disease and its complications. Given the increasing public health relevance of cannabis exposure, it is clear that more research is necessary to clarify the various physiological and pathophysiological effects of cannabis and related analogs on the kidney. This will help limit the deleterious effects of these substances while promoting their potential beneficial impact on renal function in various types of kidney diseases.


acute kidney injury; cannabis; chronic kidney disease; endocannabinoid system; kidney

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