More recently, van Winkel and colleagues looked at the effects of recent see more cannabis use whilst examining 152 single nucleotide polymorphisms in 42 candidate genes in 801 patients with psychosis and their 740 unaffected siblings [van Winkel et al. 2011]. The authors found that genetic variation in serine-threonine protein kinase (AKT1) may mediate both short- and long-term effects on psychosis expression associated with cannabis use. The authors suggest that the likely mechanism could be cannabinoid-regulated AKT1/glycogen Inhibitors,research,lifescience,medical synthase kinase 3 signalling downstream of the dopamine D2 receptor. Indeed, CB1R agonists have been shown to
induce AKT1 phosphorylation, whilst the antagonists of this receptor have inhibited AKT1 signalling pathways [Molina-Holgado et al. 2002]. Inhibitors,research,lifescience,medical Further support for the possible involvement of the AKT1 gene comes from our study with healthy volunteers. This study found that, during the encoding and recall conditions of the verbal memory task, the induction of psychotic symptoms by d-9-THC was correlated Inhibitors,research,lifescience,medical with the attenuated striatal and midbrain activation only in those who were G homozygotes
of AKT1 and carriers of the 9-repeat allele dopamine transporter (DAT1) [Bhattacharyya et al. 2012] (Table 2). Table 2. Proposed factors determining sensitivity to psychosis in cannabis users.* Apart from schizotypal personality, the vulnerability factors to the Inhibitors,research,lifescience,medical psychotogenic effects of cannabis require replication. It is clear that further work needs to be carried out to explore the biological mechanisms which determine the vulnerability towards a psychotic outcome. Conclusion During the last decade, endocannabinoid research has been one of the fastest growing fields in psychopharmacology, opening ways to discover new medicines for a wide variety of health problems, ranging from metabolic
disorders, to glaucoma Inhibitors,research,lifescience,medical and schizophrenia. The distribution of the endocannabinoid system in the brain is interesting as the very same brain areas are also implicated in psychoses, particularly in schizophrenia. Furthermore, complex and intricate involvement of this new system with other neurotransmitters such as dopamine, GABA and glutamatergic systems may have implications for the development of a psychotic illness. Naturally, due to the recent and constant increase in the availability of higher THC content variants of cannabis around the world, there have been increasing concerns about the health risks, particularly for young people. However, cannabis affects people differently and therefore it is important to understand what makes someone more at risk and how they differ compared with those who do not develop psychotic illness.