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Part II: The Endocannabinoids and Regulation of Energy Balance; The Endocannabinoid System: a Target for Anti-Obesity Drugs

The unfolding cannabinoid story on energy homeostasis: central or peripheral site of action?


Presentations in this symposium addressed effects and modes of action of endocannabinoids in various tissues in relation to metabolic disorders. Endocannabinoids are produced and exert their effect in various brain sites, including the mesolimbic reward circuitry and the hypothalamus. Both of these regions have direct ties to energy metabolism regulation, particularly food intake and energy expenditure. These data clearly suggest that the observed beneficial effects of CB1 (cannabinoid receptor 1) receptor antagonists on obesity may be related to the central endocannabinoid system. On the other hand, data presented on cannabinoid action in the liver and white adipose tissues clearly indicate that CB1-mediated events in affecting metabolic phenotype may occur in peripheral tissues as well. This together with the reported results from human trials on CB1 antagonists showing that the initial anorectic effect of rimonabant is diminished after the first weeks while longer lasting weight loss is achieved do indicate that peripheral action of cannabinoids are very important in body weight regulation. Should this hold true in the long run, antagonizing CB1 receptors with compound not crossing the blood–brain barrier could revolutionize pharmaceutical approaches to obesity by offering a tool that short cuts the central nervous system.

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Correspondence to T L Horvath.

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Horvath, T. The unfolding cannabinoid story on energy homeostasis: central or peripheral site of action?. Int J Obes 30 (Suppl 1), S30–S32 (2006).

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  • CB1
  • MCH
  • rimonabant

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