Differential diurnal variations of anandamide and 2-arachidonoyl-glycerol levels in rat brain

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2004 Apr;61(7-8):945-50. doi: 10.1007/s00018-003-3453-5.


The endogenous ligands of cannabinoid receptors, also known as endocannabinoids, have been implicated in many physiological and pathological processes of the central nervous system. Here we show that the levels of the two major endocannabinoids, anandamide and 2-arachidonoyl-glycerol (2-AG), in four areas of the rat brain, change dramatically between the light and dark phases of the day. While anandamide levels in the nucleus accumbens, pre-frontal cortex, striatum and hippocampus were significantly higher in the dark phase, the opposite was observed with 2-AG, whose levels were significantly higher during the light phase in all four regions. We found that the activity of the fatty acid amide hydrolase, which catalyzes the metabolism of anandamide, was significantly lower during the dark phase, thus providing a possible explaination for the increase in anandamide levels. However, the activities of monoacylglycerol lipase and diacylglycerol lipase, two of the possible enzymes catalyzing the degradation and biosynthesis of 2-AG, respectively, changed significantly only in the striatum. These data suggest that the levels of the two major endocannabinoids might be under the control of endogenous factors known to undergo diurnal variations, and underscore the different roles, suggested by previous studies, of anandamide and 2-AG in neurophysiological processes.

MeSH terms

  • Amidohydrolases / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Arachidonic Acids / metabolism*
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators / metabolism*
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Endocannabinoids
  • Glycerides / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Photoperiod
  • Polyunsaturated Alkamides
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Arachidonic Acids
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators
  • Endocannabinoids
  • Glycerides
  • Polyunsaturated Alkamides
  • glyceryl 2-arachidonate
  • Amidohydrolases
  • fatty-acid amide hydrolase
  • anandamide