The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a widespread neuromodulatory system that plays important roles in central nervous system (CNS) development, synaptic plasticity, and the response to endogenous and environmental insults. The ECS is comprised of cannabinoid receptors, endogenous cannabinoids (endocannabinoids), and the enzymes responsible for the synthesis and degradation of the endocannabinoids. The most abundant cannabinoid receptor is the CB1 cannabinoid receptors, however CB2 cannabinoid receptors, transient receptor potential (TRP) channels, and peroxisome proliferator activated receptors (PPAR’s) are also engaged by some cannabinoids. Exogenous cannabinoids, such as tetrahydrocannabinol, produce their biological effects through their interactions with cannabinoid receptors. 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG) and arachidonoyl ethanolamide (anandamide) are the best-studied endogenous cannabinoids. Despite similarities in chemical structure, 2-AG and anandamide are synthesized and degraded by distinct enzymatic pathways, which impart fundamentally different physiological and pathophysiological roles to these two endocannabinoids. Because of the pervasive social use of cannabis and the involvement of endocannabinoids in a multitude of biological processes, much has been learned about the physiological and pathophysiological roles of the ECS. This review will provide an introduction to the ECS with an emphasis on its role in synaptic plasticity and how the ECS is perturbed in schizophrenia.
(Picture from: https://mcanz.org.nz/the-endocannabinoid-system/)