The chemistry of endocannabinoids

J Endocrinol Invest. 2006;29(3 Suppl):3-14.


Over the last two decades a new biochemical/physiological system, now known as the endocannabinoid system, was discovered. Two receptors, cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1 receptor) and cannabinoid receptor type 2 (CB2 receptor), have been well characterized and numerous additional ones are in various stages of characterization. Two major endogenous ligands, anandamide and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG), have been identified and an enormous amount of research has been reported on them. A few additional endocannabinoids have been identified, but at present our understanding of their physiological roles is limited. The biosynthesis and degradation of the endocannabinoids have been explored, but considerable gaps exist in our knowledge of these processes. In view of the plethora of physiological roles of the endocannabinoid system, numerous academic and industrial labs are making a considerable effort to develop novel drugs, both agonists and antagonists to the endocannabinoid receptors. In the present review, we shall try to give an overview of the chemistry of the endocannabinoids as well as of some synthetic molecules that affect the endocannabinoid system.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators / chemistry*
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators / physiology
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators / therapeutic use
  • Drug Design
  • Endocannabinoids*
  • Humans


  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators
  • Endocannabinoids