Peripheral endocannabinoid dysregulation in obesity: relation to intestinal motility and energy processing induced by food deprivation and re-feeding

Angelo A Izzo, Fabiana Piscitelli, Raffaele Capasso, Gabriella Aviello, Barbara Romano, Francesca Borrelli, Stefania Petrosino, Vincenzo Di Marzo

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132 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Endocannabinoids in tissues controlling energy homeostasis are altered in obesity, thus contributing to metabolic disorders. Here we evaluate endocannabinoid dysregulation in the small intestine of mice with diet-induced obesity (DIO) and in peripheral tissues of Zucker and lean rats following food deprivation and re-feeding.

EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH: Intestinal transit, evaluated using rhodamine-B-labelled dextran, and small intestinal endocannabinoid levels, measured by liquid chromatography mass spectrometry, were measured in mice fed normal or high-fat diets (HFDs). Endocannabinoid levels were measured also in various tissues of lean and Zucker rats fed ad libitum or following overnight food deprivation with and without subsequent re-feeding.

KEY RESULTS: After 8 weeks of HFD, baseline intestinal transit was increased in DIO mice and enhanced by cannabinoid CB(1) receptor antagonism less efficaciously than in lean mice. Small intestinal anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol levels were reduced and increased respectively. In Zucker rats, endocannabinoids levels were higher in the pancreas, liver and duodenum, and lower in the subcutaneous adipose tissue. Food deprivation increased endocannabinoid levels in the duodenum and liver of both rat strains, in the pancreas of lean rats and in adipose tissues of Zucker rats.

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: Reduced anandamide levels might account for increased intestinal motility in DIO mice. Regulation of endocannabinoid levels in rat peripheral tissues, induced by food deprivation and re-feeding, might participate in food intake and energy processing and was altered in Zucker rats. These data, together with previous observations, provide further evidence for dysregulation of peripheral endocannabinoids in obesity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-461
Number of pages11
JournalBritish Journal of Pharmacology
Issue number2
Early online date3 Apr 2009
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2009


  • Animals
  • Arachidonic Acids
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Endocannabinoids
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Food Deprivation
  • Gastrointestinal Motility
  • Gastrointestinal Transit
  • Glycerides
  • Male
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Obesity
  • Polyunsaturated Alkamides
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Rats, Zucker
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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