The endocannabinoid system: A general view and latest additions

Luciano De Petrocellis, Maria Grazia Cascio, Vincenzo Di Marzo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

302 Citations (Scopus)


After the discovery, in the early 1990s, of specific G-protein-coupled receptors for marijuana's psychoactive principle Δ 9- tetrahydrocannabinol, the cannabinoid receptors, and of their endogenous agonists, the endocannabinoids, a decade of investigations has greatly enlarged our understanding of this altogether new signalling system. Yet, while the finding of the endocannabinoids resulted in a new effort to reveal the mechanisms regulating their levels in the brain and peripheral organs under physiological and pathological conditions, more endogenous substances with a similar action, and more molecular targets for the previously discovered endogenous ligands, anandamide and 2- arachidonoylglycerol, or for some of their metabolites, were being proposed. As the scenario becomes subsequently more complicated, and the experimental tasks to be accomplished correspondingly more numerous, we briefly review in this article the latest 'additions' to the endocannabinoid system together with earlier breakthroughs that have contributed to our present knowledge of the biochemistry and pharmacology of the endocannabinoids.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)765-774
Number of pages10
JournalBritish Journal of Pharmacology
Issue number5
Early online date24 Jan 2004
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2009


  • 2-arachidonoylglycerol
  • Anandamide
  • Cannabinoid
  • Endocannabinoids
  • Phosphatidic
  • Receptor
  • Vanilloid


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