No effective drug currently exists to treat brain injury and the mechanisms that control post-trauma events remain largely unknown. In October 4 Nature, David Panikashvili and colleagues from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, show that the cannabinoid, 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG) is part of an endogenous system that protects the brain in the period following traumatic injury.

Panikashvili et al. observed that after closed head injury in mice the level of endogenous 2-AG was significantly elevated. Consequently they administered synthetic 2-AG to mice following head injury and found a significant reduction in brain edema, a better clinical recovery, reduced infarct volume and reduced hippocampal cell death compared with control animals. This recovery was further enhanced by additional administration of inactive 2-acyl-glycerols and was dose-dependently attenuated by SR-141761A, an antagonist of the CB1 cannabinoid receptor (Nature, 2001, 413:527-531).

They suggest that this interaction leads to 2-AG suppression of...

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