The Endocannabinoid System as a Biomarker for Diagnostic and Therapeutic Applications in Depression and Anxiety

Jocelyne Alcaraz-Silva, Daniel Feingold, Gerardo Viana-Torre, Henning Budde, Claudio Imperatori, Sérgio Machado, Eric Murillo-Rodríguez

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Depression and anxiety belong to a family of mental disturbances that have increased significantly in recent years. The etiology of both disorders comprises multiple and complex factors, from genetic background to environmental influence. Since depression and anxiety present severe symptoms, they represent a greater clinical burden and greater therapeutic difficulty. Currently, standardized diagnostic procedures for depression and anxiety allow for the addition of further treat-ments, including psychotherapy and/or pharmacological intervention, with effective outcomes. How-ever, further steps should be considered with regard to consideration of the endocannabinoid system’s role in depression and anxiety. Objective: This study aimed to review the evidence from animal research and clinical studies on the role of cannabinoid receptors, the major endocannabinoids-anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG)-and the enzymes related to the synthesis and degradation of these chemicals as putative bi-omarkers for diagnostic and therapeutic elements of depression and anxiety. Methods: This review included the online search, identification, and analysis of articles (basic and clinical trials) published in English in PubMed linked to the role of cannabinoid receptors, AEA, 2-AG, and the enzymes associated with the synthesis and degradation of these endocannabinoids in depression and anxiety. Results: The neurobiological relevance of the endocannabinoid system offers genetic or pharmacological manipulation of this system as a potential strategy for the diagnostic and clinical management of mood disorders, including depression and anxiety. Conclusion: Although the described approach in this review is promising, no solid evidence is yet available, and along with additional experiments using animal models that mimic human depression and anxiety, clinical trials are needed to explore the role of the endocannabinoid system’s elements as well as the anandamide membrane transporter, none of which have been adequately studied in depression and anxiety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-430
Number of pages14
JournalCNS and Neurological Disorders - Drug Targets
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2023


  • 2-Arachidonoylglycerol
  • anandamide membrane transporter
  • cannabinoid receptors
  • depression
  • diacylglycerol lipase
  • fatty acid amide hydrolase
  • monoacylglycerol lipase


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