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The Endocannabinoid System as Pharmacological Target Derived from Its CNS Role in Energy Homeostasis and Reward. Applications in Eating Disorders and Addiction
Departamento de Fisiología (Fisiología Animal II), Facultad de Biología, Universidad Complutense, Madrid 28040, Spain
Laboratorio de Medicina Regenerativa, Fundación IMABIS, Hospital Carlos Haya, Málaga 29010, Spain
INSERM U862, Avenir group “Energy Balance and Obesity”, Neurocentre Magendie, Bordeaux 33077, France
Department of Basic Medical Sciences, College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific, Western University of Health Sciences, Pomona, CA 91766, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 7 June 2011; in revised form: 18 July 2011 / Accepted: 28 July 2011 / Published: 10 August 2011
Abstract: The endocannabinoid system (ECS) has been implicated in many physiological functions, including the regulation of appetite, food intake and energy balance, a crucial involvement in brain reward systems and a role in psychophysiological homeostasis (anxiety and stress responses). We first introduce this important regulatory system and chronicle what is known concerning the signal transduction pathways activated upon the binding of endogenous cannabinoid ligands to the Gi/0-coupled CB1 cannabinoid receptor, as well as its interactions with other hormones and neuromodulators which can modify endocannabinoid signaling in the brain. Anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN) are severe and disabling psychiatric disorders, characterized by profound eating and weight alterations and body image disturbances. Since endocannabinoids modulate eating behavior, it is plausible that endocannabinoid genes may contribute to the biological vulnerability to these diseases. We present and discuss data suggesting an impaired endocannabinoid signaling in these eating disorders, including association of endocannabinoid components gene polymorphisms and altered CB1-receptor expression in AN and BN. Then we discuss recent findings that may provide new avenues for the identification of therapeutic strategies based on the endocannabinod system. In relation with its implications as a reward-related system, the endocannabinoid system is not only a target for cannabis but it also shows interactions with other drugs of abuse. On the other hand, there may be also a possibility to point to the ECS as a potential target for treatment of drug-abuse and addiction. Within this framework we will focus on enzymatic machinery involved in endocannabinoid inactivation (notably fatty acid amide hydrolase or FAAH) as a particularly interesting potential target. Since a deregulated endocannabinoid system may be also related to depression, anxiety and pain symptomatology accompanying drug-withdrawal states, this is an area of relevance to also explore adjuvant treatments for improving these adverse emotional reactions.
Keywords: CB1; CB2; FAAH; energy balance; eating disorders; anorexia nervosa; bulimia nervosa; cannabinoid-based therapy; drug-abuse; addiction
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Cite This Article
MDPI and ACS Style
Viveros, M.-P.; Bermúdez-Silva, F.-J.; Lopez-Rodriguez, A.-B.; Wagner, E.J. The Endocannabinoid System as Pharmacological Target Derived from Its CNS Role in Energy Homeostasis and Reward. Applications in Eating Disorders and Addiction. Pharmaceuticals 2011, 4, 1101-1136.
Viveros M-P, Bermúdez-Silva F-J, Lopez-Rodriguez A-B, Wagner EJ. The Endocannabinoid System as Pharmacological Target Derived from Its CNS Role in Energy Homeostasis and Reward. Applications in Eating Disorders and Addiction. Pharmaceuticals. 2011; 4(8):1101-1136.
Viveros, Maria-Paz; Bermúdez-Silva, Francisco-Javier; Lopez-Rodriguez, Ana-Belén; Wagner, Edward J. 2011. "The Endocannabinoid System as Pharmacological Target Derived from Its CNS Role in Energy Homeostasis and Reward. Applications in Eating Disorders and Addiction." Pharmaceuticals 4, no. 8: 1101-1136.