Effect of cannabidiol on sepsis-induced motility disturbances in mice: involvement of CB receptors and fatty acid amide hydrolase

Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2008 Aug;20(8):919-27. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2982.2008.01114.x. Epub 2008 Mar 27.


Sepsis is an inflammatory condition that is associated with reduced propulsive gastrointestinal motility (ileus). A therapeutic option to treat sepsis is to promote intestinal propulsion preventing bacterial stasis, overgrowth and translocation. Recent evidence suggests that anti-oxidants improve sepsis-induced ileus. Cannabidiol, a non-psychotropic component of Cannabis sativa, exerts strong anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects without binding to cannabinoid CB(1) or CB(2) receptors. Cannabidiol also regulates the activity of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) which is the main enzyme involved in endocannabinoid breakdown and which modulates gastrointestinal motility. Because of the therapeutic potential of cannabidiol in several pathologies, we investigated its effect on sepsis-induced ileus and on cannabinoid receptor and FAAH expression in the mouse intestine. Sepsis was induced by treating mice with lipopolysaccharides for 18 h. Sepsis led to a decrease in gastric emptying and intestinal transit. Cannabidiol further reduced gastrointestinal motility in septic mice but did not affect gastrointestinal motility in control mice. A low concentration of the CB(1) antagonist AM251 did not affect gastrointestinal motility in control mice but reversed the effect of cannabidiol in septic mice. Sepsis was associated with a selective upregulation of intestinal CB(1) receptors without affecting CB(2) receptor expression and with increased FAAH expression. The increase in FAAH expression was completely reversed by cannabidiol but not affected by AM251. Our results show that sepsis leads to an imbalance of the endocannabinoid system in the mouse intestine. Despite its proven anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, cannabidiol may be of limited use for the treatment of sepsis-induced ileus.

MeSH terms

  • Amidohydrolases / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Cannabidiol / metabolism*
  • Capsaicin / metabolism
  • Gastric Emptying / physiology
  • Gastrointestinal Motility / physiology*
  • Intestine, Small / anatomy & histology
  • Intestine, Small / physiology
  • Lipopolysaccharides / toxicity
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Piperidines / metabolism
  • Pyrazoles / metabolism
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / metabolism*
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2 / metabolism*
  • Sensory System Agents / metabolism
  • Sepsis / chemically induced
  • Sepsis / metabolism*


  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Piperidines
  • Pyrazoles
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2
  • Sensory System Agents
  • Cannabidiol
  • AM 251
  • Amidohydrolases
  • fatty-acid amide hydrolase
  • Capsaicin