There is growing evidence that glucose metabolism in the liver is in part under the control of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) which is also supported by its presence in this organ. The ECS consists of its cannabinoid receptors (CBRs) and enzymes that are responsible for endocannabinoid production and metabolism. ECS is known to be differentially influenced by the hepatic glucose metabolism and insulin resistance, e.g., cannabinoid receptor type 1(CB1
) antagonist can improve the glucose tolerance and insulin resistance. Interestingly, our own study shows that expression patterns of CBRs are influenced by the light/dark cycle, which is of significant physiological and clinical interest. The ECS system is highly upregulated during chronic liver disease and a growing number of studies suggest a mechanistic and therapeutic impact of ECS on the development of liver fibrosis, especially putting its receptors into focus. An opposing effect of the CBRs was exerted via the CB1
receptor stimulation. An activation of CB1
promoted fibrogenesis, while CB2
activation improved antifibrogenic responses. However, underlying mechanisms are not yet clear. In the context of liver diseases, the ECS is considered as a possible mediator, which seems to be involved in the synthesis of fibrotic tissue, increase of intrahepatic vascular resistance and subsequently development of portal hypertension. Portal hypertension is the main event that leads to complications of the disease. The main complication is the development of variceal bleeding and ascites, which have prognostic relevance for the patients. The present review summarizes the current understanding and impact of the ECS on glucose metabolism in the liver, in association with the development of liver cirrhosis and hemodynamics in cirrhosis and its complication, to give perspectives for development of new therapeutic strategies.
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