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Open AccessReview

The Endocannabinoid System of Animals

Chief Medical Officer, RxVitamins, Niwot, CO 80544-0590, USA
Animals 2019, 9(9), 686; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9090686
Received: 12 August 2019 / Revised: 5 September 2019 / Accepted: 6 September 2019 / Published: 16 September 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health Topics of Current Concern for Companion Animals)
Our understanding of the Endocannabinoid System of animals, and its ubiquitous presence in nearly all members of Animalia, has opened the door to novel approaches targeting pain management, cancer therapeutics, modulation of neurologic disorders, stress reduction, anxiety management, and inflammatory diseases. Both endogenous and exogenous endocannabinoid-related molecules are able to function as direct ligands or, otherwise, influence the EndoCannabinoid System (ECS). This review article introduces the reader to the ECS in animals, and documents its potential as a source for emerging therapeutics.
The endocannabinoid system has been found to be pervasive in mammalian species. It has also been described in invertebrate species as primitive as the Hydra. Insects, apparently, are devoid of this, otherwise, ubiquitous system that provides homeostatic balance to the nervous and immune systems, as well as many other organ systems. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) has been defined to consist of three parts, which include (1) endogenous ligands, (2) G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), and (3) enzymes to degrade and recycle the ligands. Two endogenous molecules have been identified as ligands in the ECS to date. The endocannabinoids are anandamide (arachidonoyl ethanolamide) and 2-AG (2-arachidonoyl glycerol). Two G-coupled protein receptors (GPCR) have been described as part of this system, with other putative GPC being considered. Coincidentally, the phytochemicals produced in large quantities by the Cannabis sativa L plant, and in lesser amounts by other plants, can interact with this system as ligands. These plant-based cannabinoids are termed phytocannabinoids. The precise determination of the distribution of cannabinoid receptors in animal species is an ongoing project, with the canine cannabinoid receptor distribution currently receiving the most interest in non-human animals. View Full-Text
Keywords: endocannabinoid system; Anandamide; 2-AG; cannabis; cannabinoid receptor 1; cannabinoid receptor 2; G-coupled protein receptor; PPARS a; b; Ht1a; TRPV1; GPR55; cannabidiol; CBD; THC; CBG; CBC; tetrahydrocannabinol endocannabinoid system; Anandamide; 2-AG; cannabis; cannabinoid receptor 1; cannabinoid receptor 2; G-coupled protein receptor; PPARS a; b; Ht1a; TRPV1; GPR55; cannabidiol; CBD; THC; CBG; CBC; tetrahydrocannabinol
MDPI and ACS Style

Silver, R.J. The Endocannabinoid System of Animals. Animals 2019, 9, 686.

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