The cannabinoid CB1 receptor is expressed in pancreatic delta-cells

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2008 Aug 8;372(4):595-600. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2008.05.077. Epub 2008 May 27.


Antagonists of cannabinoid CB1 receptor (CB1, CNR1) promote weight loss and decrease hyperglycemia in patients with type 2 diabetes. While the endocannabinoid system may modulate islet hormone secretion, the cell-type expressing CB1 receptor in islets has not been fully resolved. In this study, we verified receptor gene expression in rodent islets and cell lines and examined the distribution of CB1 receptor in mouse, rat, and human islets by confocal immunofluorescence (IF) microscopy. IF demonstrated CB1 receptor was present in beta-cell lines, but co-localized solely with somatostatin in the islet delta-cells of Zucker rats, C57BL/6 mice, and humans; no CB1 receptor expression was observed in alpha-, beta-, or pp-cells. Similarly, a rat somatostatinoma cell line, MSL-G2-Tu6, was found to express CB1 receptor. We also found monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL) to be expressed in delta-cells and fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) to be expressed in alpha-cells. The specific expression of CB1 in delta-cells suggests that the ECS may play a role in modulating islet hormone secretion. As there are some differences between our findings and previous reports, further studies, including detailed physiological studies of the effects of the ECS on islet function, are warranted.

MeSH terms

  • Amidohydrolases / biosynthesis
  • Amidohydrolases / genetics
  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Monoacylglycerol Lipases / biosynthesis
  • Monoacylglycerol Lipases / genetics
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / biosynthesis*
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / genetics
  • Somatostatin-Secreting Cells / metabolism*


  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1
  • Monoacylglycerol Lipases
  • Amidohydrolases
  • fatty-acid amide hydrolase