Cannabinoid receptors, located throughout the body, are part of the endocannabinoid system, which is involved in a variety of physiological processes including appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and memory.
Cannabinoid receptors are of a class of cell membrane receptors in the G protein-coupled receptor superfamily. As is typical of G protein-coupled receptors, the cannabinoid receptors contain seven transmembrane spanning domains. Cannabinoid receptors are activated by three major groups of ligands: endocannabinoids, produced by the mammillary body; plant cannabinoids (such as cannabidiol, produced by the cannabis plant); and synthetic cannabinoids (such as HU-210). All of the endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids (plant based cannabinoids) are lipophilic, such as fat soluble compounds.
There are currently two known subtypes of cannabinoid receptors, termed CB1 and CB2. The CB1 receptor is expressed mainly in the brain (central nervous system or "CNS"), but also in the lungs, liver and kidneys. The CB2 receptor is expressed mainly in the immune system and in hematopoietic cells. Mounting evidence suggests that there are novel cannabinoid receptors that is, non-CB1 and non-CB2, which are expressed in endothelial cells and in the CNS. In 2007, the binding of several cannabinoids to the G protein-coupled receptor GPR55 in the brain was described.