Endocannabinoids and the gut

Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. Feb-Mar 2002;66(2-3):333-41. doi: 10.1054/plef.2001.0345.


In the digestive tract, there is evidence for the presence of high amounts of endocannabinoids (anandamide and 2-arachidonylglycerol) and of mechanisms for endocannabinoid metabolism and possibly endocannabinoid uptake. Pharmacological studies have shown that anandamide inhibits excitatory transmission and peristalsis in the isolated guinea-pig ileum and reduces intestinal motility in the mouse in vivo; all these effects are mediated by CB(1) receptors, which are located on enteric nerves. Conversely, the selective CB(1) receptor antagonist SR141716A increased intestinal motility and this effect is likely due to the displacement of endocannabinoids rather than to its inverse agonist properties. Interestingly, inhibitory effects of anandamide via non-CB(1) receptors and stimulatory effects via vanilloid receptors have also been proposed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arachidonic Acids / pharmacology*
  • Biological Transport
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators
  • Cannabinoids / pharmacology*
  • Digestive System / drug effects*
  • Digestive System / metabolism
  • Digestive System / physiopathology
  • Eicosanoids / pharmacology*
  • Endocannabinoids
  • Gastrointestinal Motility / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Organ Specificity
  • Polyunsaturated Alkamides
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid
  • Receptors, Drug / agonists
  • Receptors, Drug / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Drug / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Synaptic Transmission / drug effects


  • Arachidonic Acids
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators
  • Cannabinoids
  • Eicosanoids
  • Endocannabinoids
  • Polyunsaturated Alkamides
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid
  • Receptors, Drug
  • anandamide