Diversity of molecular targets and signaling pathways for CBD

Douglas L. de Almeida, Lakshmi A. Devi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

130 Scopus citations


Cannabidiol (CBD) is the second most abundant component of the Cannabis plant and is known to have effects distinct from Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Many studies that examined the behavioral effects of CBD concluded that it lacks the psychotomimetic effects attributed to THC. However, CBD was shown to have a broad spectrum of effects on several conditions such as anxiety, inflammation, neuropathic pain, and epilepsy. It is currently thought that CBD engages different targets and hence CBD’s effects are thought to be due to multiple molecular mechanisms of action. A well-accepted set of targets include GPCRs and ion channels, with the serotonin 5-HT1A receptor and the transient receptor potential cation channel TRPV1 channel being the two main targets. CBD has also been thought to target G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) such as cannabinoid and opioid receptors. Other studies have suggested a role for additional GPCRs and ion channels as targets of CBD. Currently, the clinical efficacy of CBD is not completely understood. Evidence derived from randomized clinical trials, in vitro and in vivo models and real-world observations support the use of CBD as a drug treatment option for anxiety, neuropathy, and many other conditions. Hence an understanding of the current status of the field as it relates to the targets for CBD is of great interest so, in this review, we include findings from recent studies that highlight these main targets.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00682
JournalPharmacology Research and Perspectives
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • G coupled receptors
  • binding sites
  • cannabidiol
  • ion channels
  • µ-CB heteromers


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