Cannabinoid receptors regulate Ca(2+) signals and insulin secretion in pancreatic beta-cell

Cell Calcium. 2006 Feb;39(2):155-62. doi: 10.1016/j.ceca.2005.10.005.


Insulin is the main hormone involved in the regulation of glycaemia, its impaired secretion is a hallmark of type I and type II diabetic individuals. Additionally, insulin is involved in lipogenesis and weight gain, provoking an anorexigenic action. The endocannabinoid system contributes to the physiological regulation of energy balance, food intake and lipid and glucose metabolisms. Despite that, an experimental link between the endocannabinoid system and the endocrine pancreas has not yet been described. Using quantitative real-time PCR and immunocytochemistry, we have demonstrated the existence of both CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocrine pancreas. While the CB1 receptor is mainly expressed in non-beta-cells, the CB2 type exists in beta- and non-beta-cells within the islet. The endocannabinoid 2-arachidonylglycerol (2-AG) through CB2 receptors regulates [Ca(2+)](i) signals in beta-cells and as a consequence, it decreases insulin secretion. This effect may be a new component involved in the orexigenic effect of endocannabinoids and constitutes a potential target for pharmacologic manipulation of the energy balance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arachidonic Acids / pharmacology
  • Base Sequence
  • Calcium Signaling / drug effects
  • Calcium Signaling / physiology*
  • Endocannabinoids
  • Gene Expression
  • Glycerides / pharmacology
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / drug effects
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Polyunsaturated Alkamides
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / genetics
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / metabolism
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2 / genetics
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2 / metabolism
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid / metabolism*


  • Arachidonic Acids
  • Endocannabinoids
  • Glycerides
  • Insulin
  • Polyunsaturated Alkamides
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid
  • glyceryl 2-arachidonate
  • anandamide