A study by the Neuropharmacology Laboratory-NeuroPhar of the Department of Experimental and Health Sciences (DCEXS) at UPF reveals the involvement of the endocannabinoid system in cognitive disorders in mouse models of Down syndrome. The work, led by Andrés Ozaita and Rafael Maldonado, which has been published in the journal Neurobiology of Disease, also identifies cannabinoid receptor type-1 (CB1) as a potential treatment target.
Down syndrome is the most common genetic cause of mental disability. It is caused by the total or partial trisomy of chromosome 21 and affects one in every 700-1000 live births.
“The endocannabinoid system is involved in many functions, including learning and memory processes. However, until now the role of the system in the cognitive deficits of Down syndrome had not been explored,” explains Alba Navarro-Romero, first author of the paper.
The researchers studied two rodent models that mimic the genetic alterations observed in individuals with Down syndrome. “In these models, we have found that CB1 receptor has a higher expression and is also more active in a brain area with a key role in memory as is the hippocampus,” Andrés Ozaita explains.