The role of the brain's endocannabinoid system in pain and its modulation by stress
Finn, David P.
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Corcoran, Louise, Roche, Michelle, & Finn, David P. (2015). Chapter Six - The Role of the Brain's Endocannabinoid System in Pain and Its Modulation by Stress. In Loren Parsons & Matthew Hill (Eds.), International Review of Neurobiology (Vol. 125, pp. 203-255): Academic Press.
Stress has a complex, bidirectional modulatory influence on pain. Stress may either reduce (stress-induced analgesia) or exacerbate (stress-induced hyperalgesia) pain depending on the nature, duration, and intensity of the stressor. The endogenous cannabinoid (endocannabinoid) system is present throughout the neuroanatomical pathways that mediate and modulate responses to painful stimuli. The specific role of the endocannabinoid system in the brain in pain and the modulation of pain by stress is reviewed herein. We first provide a brief overview of the endocannabinoid system, followed by a review of the evidence that the brain's endocannabinoid system modulates pain. We provide a comprehensive evaluation of the role of the endocannabinoid system supraspinally, and particularly in the rostral ventromedial medulla, periaqueductal gray, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex, in pain, stress-induced analgesia, and stress-induced hyperalgesia. Increased understanding of endocannabinoid-mediated regulation of pain and its modulation by stress will inform the development of novel therapeutic approaches for pain and its comorbidity with stress-related disorders.