2-Arachidonoylglycerol and the cannabinoid receptors

Chem Phys Lipids. 2000 Nov;108(1-2):89-106. doi: 10.1016/s0009-3084(00)00189-4.


2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) is a unique molecular species of monoacylglycerol isolated from rat brain and canine gut as an endogenous cannabinoid receptor ligand (Sugiura, T., Kondo, S., Sukagawa, A., Nakane, S., Shinoda, A., Itoh, K., Yamashita, A., Waku, K., 1995. 2-Arachidonoylglycerol: a possible endogenous cannabinoid receptor ligand in brain. Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 215, 89-97; Mechoulam, R., Ben-Shabat, S., Hanus, L., Ligumsky, M., Kaminski, N. E., Schatz, A.R., Gopher, A., Almog, S., Martin, B.R., Compton, D.R., Pertwee, R.G., Giffin, G., Bayewitch, M., Brag, J., Vogel, Z., 1995. Identification of an endogenous 2-monoglyceride, present in canine gut, that binds to cannabinoid receptors. Biochem. Pharmacol. 50, 83-90). 2-AG binds to the cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) and exhibits a variety of cannabimimetic activities in vitro and in vivo. Recently, we found that 2-AG induces Ca(2+) transients in NG108-15 cells, which express the CB1 receptor, and in HL-60 cells, which express the CB2 receptor, through a cannabinoid receptor- and Gi/Go-dependent mechanism. Based on the results of structure-activity relationship experiments, we concluded that 2-AG but not anandamide is the natural ligand for both the CB1 and the CB2 receptors and both receptors are primarily 2-AG receptors. Evidences are gradually accumulating that 2-AG is a physiologically essential molecule, although further detailed studies appear to be necessary to determine relative importance of 2-AG and anandamide in various animal tissues. In this review, we described mainly our previous and current experimental results, as well as those of others, concerning the tissue levels, bioactions and metabolism of 2-AG.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arachidonic Acids*
  • Endocannabinoids
  • Glycerides / chemistry
  • Glycerides / metabolism*
  • Glycerides / pharmacology
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2*
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid
  • Receptors, Drug / agonists
  • Receptors, Drug / metabolism*
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Arachidonic Acids
  • Cnr2 protein, rat
  • Endocannabinoids
  • Glycerides
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid
  • Receptors, Drug
  • glyceryl 2-arachidonate