The emerging role of the endocannabinoid system in endocrine regulation and energy balance.

Uberto Pagotto, Giovanni Marsicano, Daniela Cota, Beat Lutz, Renato Pasquali
Endocrine Reviews. 2006-02-01; 27(1): 73-100
DOI: 10.1210/er.2005-0009

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1. Endocr Rev. 2006 Feb;27(1):73-100. Epub 2005 Nov 23.

The emerging role of the endocannabinoid system in endocrine regulation and
energy balance.

Pagotto U(1), Marsicano G, Cota D, Lutz B, Pasquali R.

Author information:
(1)Endocrinology Unit, Department of Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology,
Sant’ Orsola-Malpighi Hospital, Bologna, Italy, and Department of Physiological
Chemistry, Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz, Germany.

During the last few years, the endocannabinoid system has emerged as a highly
relevant topic in the scientific community. Many different regulatory actions
have been attributed to endocannabinoids, and their involvement in several
pathophysiological conditions is under intense scrutiny. Cannabinoid receptors,
named CB1 receptor and CB2 receptor, first discovered as the molecular targets of
the psychotropic component of the plant Cannabis sativa, participate in the
physiological modulation of many central and peripheral functions. CB2 receptor
is mainly expressed in immune cells, whereas CB1 receptor is the most abundant G
protein-coupled receptor expressed in the brain. CB1 receptor is expressed in the
hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, and its activation is known to modulate all
the endocrine hypothalamic-peripheral endocrine axes. An increasing amount of
data highlights the role of the system in the stress response by influencing the
hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and in the control of reproduction by
modifying gonadotropin release, fertility, and sexual behavior. The ability of
the endocannabinoid system to control appetite, food intake, and energy balance
has recently received great attention, particularly in the light of the different
modes of action underlying these functions. The endocannabinoid system modulates
rewarding properties of food by acting at specific mesolimbic areas in the brain.
In the hypothalamus, CB1 receptor and endocannabinoids are integrated components
of the networks controlling appetite and food intake. Interestingly, the
endocannabinoid system was recently shown to control metabolic functions by
acting on peripheral tissues, such as adipocytes, hepatocytes, the
gastrointestinal tract, and, possibly, skeletal muscle. The relevance of the
system is further strenghtened by the notion that drugs interfering with the
activity of the endocannabinoid system are considered as promising candidates for
the treatment of various diseases, including obesity.

DOI: 10.1210/er.2005-0009
PMID: 16306385 [Indexed for MEDLINE]

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