From endocannabinoid profiling to 'endocannabinoid therapeutics'.Curr Opin Chem Biol 2009; 13(3):321-31CO
The discovery of the endocannabinoid signalling system, that is, of cannabinoid receptors, their endogenous ligands, known as endocannabinoids, and of endocannabinoid anabolic and catabolic enzymes, raised several questions regarding the physiopathological role of these mediators. Several of these questions were answered by investigating alterations in the levels of the most studied endocannabinoids, anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), in tissues of animal models of disorders, and in bioptic samples and biological fluids (cerebrospinal fluid and blood) of human volunteers. Subsequently, the pharmacological effects of synthetic compounds that selectively target the cannabinoid CB(1) and CB(2) receptors, and endocannabinoid anabolic and catabolic enzymes, established cause-effect relationships between pathological alterations in endocannabinoid levels and the symptoms and progress of several disorders, including emesis, obesity, metabolic disorders, hepatic diseases, pain, inflammation and neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders. These new developments are discussed in this second review on the endocannabinoids, together with the results of pre-clinical and clinical studies on the potential therapeutic use of plant-derived cannabinoids and synthetic agents that manipulate pharmacologically the action at cannabinoid receptors or the tissue levels of AEA and 2-AG.