Plasma anandamide concentrations are lower in children with autism spectrum disorder.

Molecular Autism logo

“Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by restricted, stereotyped behaviors and impairments in social communication.

Although the underlying biological mechanisms of ASD remain poorly understood, recent preclinical research has implicated the endogenous cannabinoid (or endocannabinoid), anandamide, as a significant neuromodulator in rodent models of ASD. Despite this promising preclinical evidence, no clinical studies to date have tested whether endocannabinoids are dysregulated in individuals with ASD.

Here, we addressed this critical gap in knowledge by optimizing liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry methodology to quantitatively analyze anandamide concentrations in banked blood samples collected from a cohort of children with and without ASD (N = 112).


Anandamide concentrations significantly differentiated ASD cases (N = 59) from controls (N = 53), such that children with lower anandamide concentrations were more likely to have ASD (p = 0.041). In keeping with this notion, anandamide concentrations were also significantly lower in ASD compared to control children (p = 0.034).


These findings are the first empirical human data to translate preclinical rodent findings to confirm a link between plasma anandamide concentrations in children with ASD. Although preliminary, these data suggest that impaired anandamide signaling may be involved in the pathophysiology of ASD.”

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous

Reduced levels of the endocannabinoid arachidonylethanolamide (AEA) in hair in patients with borderline personality disorder – a pilot study.

 Publication Cover

“Endocannabinoids are involved in depressive and anxious symptoms and might play a role in stress-associated psychiatric disorders.

While alterations in the endogenous cannabinoid system have been repeatedly found in patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), this system has been mostly neglected in borderline personality disorder (BPD). However, there is first evidence for elevated serum levels of the endocannabinoids arachidonylethanolamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonyl-sn-glycerol (2-AG) in BPD patients compared to healthy controls and PTSD patients.

In this study, hair endocannabinoids were analyzed, reflecting long-term endocannabinoid concentrations. We assessed AEA concentrations as well as 2-AG and the 2-AG main isomer 1-AG (1-AG/2-AG) in hair in women with BPD (n = 15) and age- and education-matched healthy women (n = 16).

We found significantly reduced log AEA in BPD patients compared to healthy women (p = .03) but no differences in log 1-AG/2-AG concentrations. In addition, there was no association between 1-AG/2-AG and hair cortisol, but we found a non-significant correlation between hair concentrations of AEA and cortisol (p = .06).

Our data indicate altered long-term release of endogenous cannabinoids in women with BPD depending on type of endocannabinoid. AEA has been suggested to modulate the basal activity of the endocannabinoid system and seems to attenuate depressive and anxious symptoms. Thus, chronically reduced AEA might contribute to psychiatric symptoms in BPD.”

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous

Anticonvulsive effects of endocannabinoids; an investigation to determine the role of regulatory components of endocannabinoid metabolism in the Pentylenetetrazol induced tonic- clonic seizures.

Metabolic Brain Disease

“2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) and anandamide are two major endocannabinoids produced, released and eliminated by metabolic pathways.

Anticonvulsive effect of 2-AG and CB1 receptor is well-established. Herein, we designed to investigate the anticonvulsive influence of key components of the 2-AG and anandamide metabolism.

It seems extracellular accumulation of 2-AG or anandamide has anticonvulsive effect through the CB1 receptor, while intracellular anandamide accumulation is proconvulsive through TRPV1.”

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous

Alterations of endocannabinoids in cerebrospinal fluid of dogs with epileptic seizure disorder.

Image result for bmc veterinary research

“Epilepsy is one of the most common chronic neurological disorders in dogs characterized by recurrent seizures. The endocannabinoid (EC) system plays a central role in suppressing pathologic neuronal excitability and in controlling the spread of activity in an epileptic network. Endocannabinoids are released on demand and their dysregulation has been described in several pathological conditions. Recurrent seizures may lead to an adverse reorganization of the EC system and impairment of its protective effect. In the current study, we tested the hypothesis that cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) concentrations of the endocannabinoids anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2AG) are altered in epileptic dogs. Concentrations of AEA and total AG (sum of 2AG and 1AG) were measured in 40 dogs with idiopathic epilepsy and in 16 unaffected, healthy control dogs using liquid chromatography combined with tandem mass spectrometry.


AEA and total AG were measured at 4.94 (3.18 – 9.17) pM and 1.43 (0.90 – 1.92) nM in epileptic dogs and at 3.19 (2.04 – 4.28) pM and 1.76 (1.08 – 2.69) nM in the control group, respectively (median, 25 – 75% percentiles in brackets). The AEA difference between epileptic and healthy dogs was statistically significant (p < 0.05). Values correlated with seizure severity and duration of seizure activity. Dogs with cluster seizures and/or status epilepticus and with seizure activity for more than six months displayed the highest EC concentrations.


In conclusion, we present the first endocannabinoid measurements in canine CSF and confirm the hypothesis that the EC system is altered in canine idiopathic epilepsy.”

“In conclusion, we demonstrated an elevation of CSF AEA concentrations in dogs with idiopathic epilepsy. The highest AEA concentrations were found in dogs with severe seizures and a long disease history. Possibly, the activation of the EC system serves as a counter-mechanism in order to regulate the seizure-threshold in epilepsy. However, the EC system can either alter or be altered by seizure activity, so that further, prospective studies are warranted to investigate pathological mechanisms. Despite endocannabinoids can be synthesized “on demand”, the EC system should be considered for development of new treatment strategies against epilepsy.”

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous

Endocannabinoid tone regulates human sebocyte biology.

JID home

“We have previously shown that i) endocannabinoids (eCB; e.g. anandamide [AEA]) are involved in the maintenance of homeostatic sebaceous lipid production (SLP) in human sebaceous glands (SG); and ii) eCB treatment dramatically increases SLP. Here, we aimed to investigate the expression of the major eCB synthesizing and degrading enzymes, and to study the effects of eCB uptake inhibitors on human SZ95 sebocytes, thus exploring the role of the putative eCB membrane transporter (EMT), which has been hypothesized to facilitate the cellular uptake and subsequent degradation of eCBs. We found that the major eCB synthesizing (NAPE-PLD, DAGLα and -β) and degrading (FAAH, MAGL) enzymes are expressed in SZ95 sebocytes, and also in SGs (except for DAGLα, whose staining was dubious in histological preparations). Interestingly, eCB uptake-inhibition with VDM11 induced a moderate increase in SLP, and also elevated the levels of various eCBs and related acylethanolamides. Finally, we found that VDM11 was able to interfere with the pro-inflammatory action of the Toll-like receptor 4 activator lipopolysaccharide. Collectively, our data suggest that inhibition of eCB uptake exerts anti-inflammatory actions and elevates both SLP and eCB levels; thus, these inhibitors might be beneficial in cutaneous inflammatory conditions accompanied by dry skin.”

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous

Role of the endocannabinoid system in the formation and development of depression.

Image result for Pharmazie

“Two types of cannabinoid (CB) receptors have been described in the human body: CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptor distribution may be related to the cannabinoid functions of memory and cognition regulation as well as motor control.

In addition, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) related to CB1 receptors may be involved in human emotion regulation, especially depression occurrence. Indeed, CB1 receptors are all distributed in depression associated neuroanatomical structures and neural circuits.

Both animal experiments and clinical studies have demonstrated that impairment of the ECS pathway is present in depression models and patients, and application of both CB1 receptor agonists and anandamide (cannabinoid-like substance) degradation inhibitors produce similar biochemical and behavioral effects as antidepressants.

These findings provide a solid basis for understanding the ECS role in the formation and development of depression. Therefore, it can be inferred that the ECS may have an important function in both depression treatment and the effects of antidepressants.”

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous

Cannabinoid-induced cell death in endometrial cancer cells: involvement of TRPV1 receptors in apoptosis.

Journal of Physiology and Biochemistry

“Among a variety of phytocannabinoids, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the most promising therapeutic compounds. Besides the well-known palliative effects in cancer patients, cannabinoids have been shown to inhibit in vitro growth of tumor cells.

Likewise, the major endocannabinoids (eCBs), anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), induce tumor cell death.

The purpose of the present study was to characterize cannabinoid elements and evaluate the effect of cannabinoids in endometrial cancer cell viability.

These data indicate that cannabinoids modulate endometrial cancer cell death.

Selective targeting of TPRV1 by AEA, CBD, or other stable analogues may be an attractive research area for the treatment of estrogen-dependent endometrial carcinoma.

Our data further support the evaluation of CBD and CBD-rich extracts for the potential treatment of endometrial cancer, particularly, that has become non-responsive to common therapies.”

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous

Targeting the endocannabinoid system as a potential anticancer approach.

Publication Cover

“The endocannabinoid system is currently under intense investigation due to the therapeutic potential of cannabinoid-based drugs as treatment options for a broad variety of diseases including cancer.

Besides the canonical endocannabinoid system that includes the cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 and the endocannabinoids N-arachidonoylethanolamine (anandamide) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol, recent investigations suggest that other fatty acid derivatives, receptors, enzymes, and lipid transporters likewise orchestrate this system as components of the endocannabinoid system when defined as an extended signaling network.

As such, fatty acids acting at cannabinoid receptors (e.g. 2-arachidonoyl glyceryl ether [noladin ether], N-arachidonoyldopamine) as well as endocannabinoid-like substances that do not elicit cannabinoid receptor activation (e.g. N-palmitoylethanolamine, N-oleoylethanolamine) have raised interest as anticancerogenic substances.

Furthermore, the endocannabinoid-degrading enzymes fatty acid amide hydrolase and monoacylglycerol lipase, lipid transport proteins of the fatty acid binding protein family, additional cannabinoid-activated G protein-coupled receptors, members of the transient receptor potential family as well as peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors have been considered as targets of antitumoral cannabinoid activity. Therefore, this review focused on the antitumorigenic effects induced upon modulation of this extended endocannabinoid network.”

“Anticancer mechanisms of cannabinoids”
“Cannabinoids as Anticancer Drugs.”
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous

From “Azalla” to Anandamide: Distilling the Therapeutic Potential of Cannabinoids

Biological Psychiatry Home

“Cannabis has held a unique place in the hearts and minds of people since time immemorial: some have exalted its properties and considered it to be sacred; others have reviled it, considering it a root cause of social evil.

The Assyrians, who lived about 3000 years ago, documented the effects of cannabis on clay tablets. They referred to the plant according to its various uses: as “azalla,” when used as a medical agent; as hemp; and as “gan-zi-gun-nu”—“the drug that takes away the mind”   These seemingly contradictory properties—a substance that can be both a therapeutic agent and a corrupting psychoactive drug—have continued to puzzle us over the ensuing centuries.

As early as the 11th century, excessive cannabis use was suggested to be a cause of “moral degeneracy.”  On the other hand, the ostensible therapeutic value of cannabis was documented extensively in the early 19th century by Sir William B. O’Shaughnessy, an Irish physician working in Calcutta, India.

Given the critical role of the endocannabinoid system in modulating anxiety, it is clear that compounds that can modulate this system offer great promise as therapeutic agents for psychiatric disorders. It is therefore not surprising that the concept of medical marijuana is compelling to laypersons, clinicians, and researchers alike.

While there is not yet a robust body of literature supporting any specific psychiatric indication (despite the regulatory approval in some states of medical marijuana for specific psychiatric disorders), active lines of investigation of therapeutic targets within the endocannabinoid system offer hope for better treatment options.

The evidence at present suggests that the question of whether cannabinoids are good or bad is not dichotomous—it is likely both good and bad depending on the context of use, including dose, duration of exposure, and an individual’s genetic vulnerabilities. Therefore, the challenge that remains is to distill the good therapeutic effects of cannabinoids and thus weed out “gan-zi-gun-nu” from “azalla.””


Facebook Twitter Pinterest Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous

Targeting Cannabinoid Signaling in the Immune System: “High”-ly Exciting Questions, Possibilities, and Challenges.

Image result for frontiers in immunology

“It is well known that certain active ingredients of the plants of Cannabis genus, i.e., the “phytocannabinoids” [pCBs; e.g., (-)-trans9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), (-)-cannabidiol, etc.] can influence a wide array of biological processes, and the human body is able to produce endogenous analogs of these substances [“endocannabinoids” (eCB), e.g., arachidonoylethanolamine (anandamide, AEA), 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), etc.].

These ligands, together with multiple receptors (e.g., CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors, etc.), and a complex enzyme and transporter apparatus involved in the synthesis and degradation of the ligands constitute the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a recently emerging regulator of several physiological processes.

The ECS is widely expressed in the human body, including several members of the innate and adaptive immune system, where eCBs, as well as several pCBs were shown to deeply influence immune functions thereby regulating inflammation, autoimmunity, antitumor, as well as antipathogen immune responses, etc.

Based on this knowledge, many in vitro and in vivo studies aimed at exploiting the putative therapeutic potential of cannabinoid signaling in inflammation-accompanied diseases (e.g., multiple sclerosis) or in organ transplantation, and to dissect the complex immunological effects of medical and “recreational” marijuana consumption.

Thus, the objective of the current article is (i) to summarize the most recent findings of the field; (ii) to highlight the putative therapeutic potential of targeting cannabinoid signaling; (iii) to identify open questions and key challenges; and (iv) to suggest promising future directions for cannabinoid-based drug development.”

“Although, many open questions await to be answered, pharmacological modulation of the (endo)cannabinoid signaling, and restoration of the homeostatic eCB tone of the tissues augur to be very promising future directions in the management of several pathological inflammation-accompanied diseases.”
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous