Endocannabinoids bind to cannabinoid, vanilloid, and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors. The biological actions of these polyunsaturated lipids are controlled by key agents responsible for their synthesis, transport and degradation, which together form an endocannabinoid system (ECS). In the past few years, evidence has been accumulated for a role of the ECS in regulating food intake and energy balance, both centrally and peripherally. In addition, up-regulation of the ECS in the gastrointestinal tract has a potential impact on inflammatory bowel diseases. In this review, the main features of the ECS are summarized in order to put in better focus our current knowledge of the nutritional relevance of endocannabinoid signaling and of its role in obesity, cardiovascular pathologies, and gastrointestinal diseases. The central and peripheral pathways that underlie these effects are discussed, as well as the possible exploitation of ECS components as novel drug targets for therapeutic intervention in eating disorders.
Annual Review of Nutrition – Annual Reviews
Published: Aug 21, 2010
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