Piomelli, Daniele Department of Pharmacology, University of California, Irvine, California.
- Cannabinoid receptors
- 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG)
- Local signaling
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
A family of endogenous lipid messengers that engage cannabinoid (CB) receptors, that is, the cell surface receptors targeted by the active principle (Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol; THC) of marijuana (cannabis). Endocannabinoids are produced on demand through cleavage of membrane phospholipid precursors and are utilized in the execution of a variety of short-range signaling processes. In the brain, they activate CB1-type cannabinoid receptors on neuronal axon terminals to regulate ion channel activity and neurotransmitter release. In peripheral tissues, they activate CB1 receptors in nerve terminals to reduce pain sensation and increase appetite. They can also engage CB1 receptors in nonneural tissues to modulate blood pressure (in the vasculature), increase adipogenesis (the formation of fat in white adipose tissue), and stimulate fatty acid accumulation (in the liver). In addition, the endocannabinoids bind to CB2-type receptors expressed in immune cells to influence pain and inflammatory responses. There are two established endocannabinoid transmitters: anandamide and 2-arachidonoyl-sn-glycerol (2-AG). The existence of other endogenous ligands has been suggested, but their physiological significance remains unknown. See also: Lipid; Marijuana; Nervous system (vertebrate); Neurobiology; Pain
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