On April 1st 2008, rickrolling went mainstream in the US when Google hosted it as a YouTube prank for April Fool’s day. This theme of a substitution is commonly found in nature for example the phytocannabinoids; cannabidiol (CBD) and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ 9-THC) have the same structural formula C21H30O2 but exhibit different effects resulting from changes in the arrangement of the atoms in the molecule although both share a common cannabinoid backbone with a 5 carbon length chain sticking off one side of the molecule. The interest in understanding the site of activity for Δ 9-THC resulted in the discovery of the cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 in the early 1980’s.
These receptors are found in different locations in the body and initiate different physiological responses once stimulated. Δ 9-THC primarily activates CB1. Interestingly, CBD does not strongly activate either receptor but activates the TRPV1 channel as a primary effect. When Δ 9-THC binds CB1 it produces a euphoric effect while binding CB2 initiates a weak immune system response. CBD when binding TRPV1 also initiates an immune system response which is different than that for Δ 9-THC binding CB2. Returning to the rickroll, a phytocannabinoid, like a weblink can elicit a range of responses some of which are anticipated, and some of which are not. Have a jolly-cannabinoid inspired April Fool’s day.
Dr. Randal Stahl – Science Consultant