The Activated Endocannabinoid System in Atherosclerosis: Driving Force or Protective Mechanism?

Author(s): Sabine Steffens, Pal Pacher

Journal Name: Current Drug Targets

Volume 16 , Issue 4 , 2015

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Graphical Abstract:


Atherosclerosis and its major acute complications, myocardial infarction and stroke, are the leading causes of death and morbidity worldwide. Despite major advances in cardiovascular intervention and healthcare, improving preventive care and treatment remains a continuous mission for cardiovascular research. Within the last 10 to 15 years, the endocannabinoid system has emerged as an important lipid signaling system involved in many biological processes. Growing evidence suggests that an overactive endocannabinoid-CB1 receptor signaling promotes the development of cardiovascular risk factors such as obesity, insulin resistance and dyslipidemia. This prompted an increasing interest in studying the role of the endocannabinoid system in atherosclerosis. As opposed to the detrimental actions of CB1 signaling, the endocannabinoid-CB2 receptor axis exhibits an anti-inflammatory and atheroprotective role. We will review recent findings from experimental and clinical studies aimed at understanding the complex actions of endocannabinoid signaling in cardiovascular disease. This is followed by an outlook on emerging targets for possible therapeutic intervention.

Keywords: Cannabinoid receptor CB1, CB2, diacylglycerol lipase, eicosanoid, fatty acid amide hydrolase, monoacylglycerol lipase.

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Article Details

Year: 2015
Page: [334 - 341]
Pages: 8
DOI: 10.2174/1389450115666141202113225
Price: $65

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