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Expression of the Endocannabinoid Receptors in Human Fascial Tissue
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a biological system composed of endocannabinoids, which are endogenous lipid-based retrograde neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors (CBRs), and cannabinoid receptor proteins that are expressed throughout the vertebrate central nervous system (including the brain) and peripheral nervous system. The endocannabinoid system remains under preliminary research, but may be involved in regulating physiological and cognitive processes, including fertility, pregnancy, during pre- and postnatal development, various activity of immune system, appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and memory, and in mediating the pharmacological effects of cannabis.
Endocannabinoid Receptors Found in Fascial Tissue
The researchers extracted fascia latae tissue, the deep fascia that encircles the thigh (of which the iliotibial band is a thickening in the lateral thigh), from 11 volunteers who had orthopedic surgery, and then isolated the main cell type of the fascia, called fibroblasts. They found both types of receptors, CB1 and CB2, in these cells.
Endocannabinoid Receptors and Fascial Pain
Cannabinoid receptors have been localized in the central and peripheral nervous system as well as on cells of the immune system, but recent studies on animal tissue gave evidence for the presence of cannabinoid receptors in different types of tissues. Their presence was supposed also in myofascial tissue, suggesting that the endocannabinoid system may help resolve myofascial trigger points and relieve symptoms of fibromyalgia. However, until now the expression of CB1 (cannabinoid receptor 1) and CB2 (cannabinoid receptor 2) in fasciae has not yet been established. Small samples of fascia were collected from volunteers patients during orthopedic surgery. For each sample were done a cell isolation, immunohistochemical investigation (CB1 and CB2 antibodies) and real time RT-PCR to detect the expression of CB1 and CB2. Both cannabinoid receptors are expressed in human fascia and in human fascial fibroblasts culture cells, although to a lesser extent than the control gene. We can assume that the expression of mRNA and protein of CB1 and CB2 receptors in fascial tissue are concentrated into the fibroblasts. This is the first demonstration that the fibroblasts of the muscular fasciae express CB1 and CB2. The presence of these receptors could help to provide a description of cannabinoid receptors distribution and to better explain the role of fasciae as pain generator and the efficacy of some fascial treatments. Indeed the endocannabinoid receptors of fascial fibroblasts can contribute to modulate the fascial fibrosis and inflammation.
Confirmation of the presence of endocannabinoid receptors in fascial tissue, and the ability to stimulate these receptors with manual and movement therapies, greatly bolsters the efficacy of manual and movement therapies as well as our understanding of the mechanism by which these therapies work.
This blog post article was created in collaboration with TerraRosa.com.au.