Anxiolytic effects of endocannabinoid enhancing compounds: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Caroline M.B. Kwee*, Nadia A. Leen, Rian C. Van der Kamp, Caspar J. Van Lissa, Danielle C. Cath, Lucianne Groenink, Johanna M.P. Baas

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

    Onderzoeksoutputpeer review

    4 Citaten (Scopus)
    47 Downloads (Pure)


    The endocannabinoid system is a promising candidate for anxiolytic therapy, but translation to the clinic has been lagging. We meta-analyzed the evidence for anxiety-reduction by compounds that facilitate endocannabinoid signaling in humans and animals. To identify areas of specific potential, effects of moderators were assessed. Literature was searched in Pubmed and Embase up to May 2021. A placebo/vehicle-control group was required and in human studies, randomization. We excluded studies that co-administered other substances. Risk of bias was assessed with SYRCLE's RoB tool and Cochrane RoB 2.0. We conducted three-level random effects meta-analyses and explored sources of heterogeneity using Bayesian regularized meta-regression (BRMA). The systematic review yielded 134 studies. We analyzed 120 studies (114 animal, 6 human) that investigated cannabidiol (CBD, 61), URB597 (39), PF-3845 (6) and AM404 (14). Pooled effects on conditioned and unconditioned anxiety in animals (with the exception of URB597 on unconditioned anxiety) and on experimentally induced anxiety in humans favored the investigational drugs over placebo/vehicle. Publication year was negatively associated with effects of CBD on unconditioned anxiety. Compared to approach avoidance tests, tests of repetitive-compulsive behavior were associated with larger effects of CBD and URB597, and the social interaction test with smaller effects of URB597. Larger effects of CBD on unconditioned anxiety were observed when anxiety pre-existed. Studies reported few side effects at therapeutic doses. The evidence quality was low with indications of publication bias. More clinical trials are needed to translate the overall positive results to clinical applications.

    Originele taal-2English
    Pagina's (van-tot)79-94
    Aantal pagina's16
    TijdschriftEuropean Neuropsychopharmacology
    StatusPublished - jul.-2023

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