Localization of cannabinoid and cannabinoid related receptors in the cat gastrointestinal tract
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a component of the plant cannabis with great potential for medical applications because of its proven anti-inflammatory, anti-tumoral, analgesic (pain-relieving), and anxiolytic (anxiety-relieving) properties and its lack of psychological side effects. Although it is the most well-known, there are other plant-derived or synthetic cannabinoids with similar therapeutic properties as CBD. These compounds exert their beneficial effects by binding to and activating cannabinoid and cannabinoid-like receptors located on specific types of cells inside the body of not only humans, but also animals including cats.
In a recent study, scientists employed immunohistochemistry, a staining technique, to detect the presence of these receptors in feline gastrointestinal tract (GI) tissues. They found that canonical cannabinoid receptors – namely CB1R, CB2R – and cannabinoid-like receptors – such as GPR55, PPARalpha, TRPA1, and 5-HT1aR – are widely distributed in many cells of the cat GI tract, which suggests that they are likely abundant in the human GI tract as well. When cannabinoids like CBD interact with these receptors, they presumably can reduce pain and inflammation. Although more research is underway to confirm such a conclusion, the novel finding of this study already strongly supports the use of cannabis to treat gut pain and discomfort.