Endocannabinoid system participates in neuroendocrine control of homeostasis.
The hypothalamo-neurohypophyseal system plays a role in homeostasis under a variety of stress conditions, including endotoxemia. Oxytocin (OXT) and vasopressin (VP) are important hormones synthesized by neurons in the hypothalamic paraventricular and supraoptic nuclei and released into different brain regions and from the neurohypophyseal terminals into the blood in response to many patho-physiological stimuli. However, the mechanism that controls OXT and VP secretion has not been fully elucidated. Nitric oxide (NO) is a known mediator that regulates the release of these hormones. The endocannabinoid system is a new intercellular system that modulates several neuroendocrine actions.
The emerging role of the endocannabinoid system in endocrine regulation and energy balance.
During the last few years, the endocannabinoid system has emerged as a highly relevant topic in the scientific community. Many different regulatory actions have been attributed to endocannabinoids, and their involvement in several pathophysiological conditions is under intense scrutiny. Cannabinoid receptors, named CB1 receptor and CB2 receptor, first discovered as the molecular targets of the psychotropic component of the plant Cannabis sativa, participate in the physiological modulation of many central and peripheral functions. CB2 receptor is mainly expressed in immune cells, whereas CB1 receptor is the most abundant G protein-coupled receptor expressed in the brain. CB1 receptor is expressed in the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, and its activation is known to modulate all the endocrine hypothalamic-peripheral endocrine axes.
Endocannabinoids in endocrine and related tumours.
The ‘endocannabinoid system’, comprising the cannabinoid CB1 and CB2 receptors, their endogenous ligands, endocannabinoids and the enzymes that regulate their biosynthesis and degradation, has drawn a great deal of scientist attention during the last two decades. The endocannabinoid system is involved in a broad range of functions and in a growing number of physiopathological conditions. Indeed, recent evidence indicates that endocannabinoids influence the intracellular events controlling the proliferation of numerous types of endocrine and related cancer cells, thereby leading to both in vitro and in vivo antitumour effects. In particular, they are able to inhibit cell growth, invasion and metastasis of thyroid, breast and prostate tumours.
Role of the endocannabinoid system in food intake, energy homeostasis and regulation of the endocrine pancreas.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a signalling cascade consisting of CB1 and CB2 receptors, and enzymes for the synthesis and degradation of endogenous ligands for these receptors. Central CB1 receptors have been most widely studied since they play key roles in energy homeostasis and rimonabant, a CB1 receptor antagonist, was used clinically to treat obesity. Less is known about CB2 receptors, but their abundant expression by lymphocytes and macrophages has led to suggestions of their importance in immune and inflammatory reactions.
The role of the endocannabinoid system in the neuroendocrine regulation of energy balance.
Animal and human studies carried out so far have established a role for the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the regulation of energy balance. Here we critically discuss the role of the endocannabinoid signalling in brain structures, such as the hypothalamus and reward-related areas, and its interaction with neurotransmitter and neuropeptide systems involved in the regulation of food intake and body weight. The ECS has been found to interact with peripheral signals, like leptin, insulin, ghrelin and satiety hormones and the resulting effects on both central and peripheral mechanisms affecting energy balance and adiposity will be described. Furthermore, ECS dysregulation has been associated with the development of dyslipidemia, glucose intolerance and obesity; phenomena that are often accompanied by a plethora of neuroendocrine alterations which might play a causal role in determining ECS dysregulation.
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