The endocannabinoid system in the adipose organ

Reviews in Endocrine & Metabolic Disorders
Kwang-Mook JungDaniele Piomelli


The endocannabinoid system is found in most, if not all, mammalian organs and is involved in a variety of physiological functions, ranging from the control of synaptic plasticity in the brain to the modulation of smooth muscle motility in the gastrointestinal tract. This signaling complex consists of G protein-coupled cannabinoid receptors, endogenous ligands for those receptors (endocannabinoids) and enzymes/transporters responsible for the formation and deactivation of these ligands. There are two subtypes of cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, and two major endocannabinoids, arachidonoylethanolamide (anandamide) and 2-arachidonoyl-sn-glycerol (2-AG), which are produced upon demand through cleavage of distinct phospholipid precursors. All molecular components of the endocannabinoid system are represented in the adipose organ, where endocannabinoid signals are thought to regulate critical homeostatic processes, including adipogenesis, lipogenesis and thermogenesis. Importantly, obesity was found to be associated with excess endocannabinoid activity in visceral fat depots, and the therapeutic potential of normalizing such activity by blocking CB1 receptors has been the focus of substantial preclinical and clinical research. Res...Continue Reading


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