New natural noncannabinoid ligands for cannabinoid type-2 (CB2) receptors

J Recept Signal Transduct Res. 2006;26(5-6):709-30. doi: 10.1080/10799890600942674.


Since the discovery that Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol and related cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa L. act on specific physiological receptors in the human body and the subsequent elucidation of the mammalian endogenous cannabinoid system, no other natural product class has been reported to mimic the effects of cannabinoids. We recently found that N-alkyl amides from purple coneflower (Echinacea spp.) constitute a new class of cannabinomimetics, which specifically engage and activate the cannabinoid type-2 (CB2) receptors. Cannabinoid type-1 (CB1) and CB2 receptors belong to the family of G protein-coupled receptors and are the primary targets of the endogenous cannabinoids N-arachidonoyl ethanolamine and 2-arachidonoyl glyerol. CB2 receptors are believed to play an important role in distinct pathophysiological processes, including metabolic dysregulation, inflammation, pain, and bone loss. CB2 receptors have, therefore, become of interest as new targets in drug discovery. This review focuses on N-alkyl amide secondary metabolites from plants and underscores that this group of compounds may provide novel lead structures for the development of CB2-directed drugs.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cannabinoids / chemistry*
  • Cannabinoids / pharmacology
  • Drug Design
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / chemistry
  • Immunologic Factors / pharmacology
  • Ligands
  • Molecular Mimicry
  • Plants / chemistry
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2 / agonists
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2 / chemistry*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Cannabinoids
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Ligands
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2