Effect of dietary fat on endocannabinoids and related mediators: consequences on energy homeostasis, inflammation and mood

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2010 Jan;54(1):82-92. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.200900516.


Among the several known fatty acid-derived chemical signals, the endogenous ligands of cannabinoid receptors type-1 and -2, two G-protein-coupled receptors involved in several aspects of mammalian physiology and pathology, are perhaps those the levels of which have proven to be most sensitive to the fatty acid composition of the diet. The two most studied such ligands, known as endocannabinoids, are N-arachidonoyl-ethanolamine and 2-archidonoylglycerol, and are found in tissues together with other N-acyl-ethanolamines and 2-acylglycerols, not all of which activate the cannabinoid receptors, although several of them do exhibit important pharmacological effects. In this review article, we describe literature data indicating that the tissue concentrations of the endocannabinoids and related signalling molecules, and hence the activity of the respective receptors, can be modulated by modifying the fatty acid composition of the diet, and particularly its content in long chain PUFAs or in long chain PUFA precursors. We also discuss the potential impact of these diet-induced changes of endocannabinoid tone on three of the major pathological conditions in which cannabinoid receptors have been involved, that is metabolic dysfunctions, inflammation and affective disorders.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arachidonic Acids / analysis
  • Arachidonic Acids / metabolism
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators / analysis
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators / metabolism*
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Endocannabinoids*
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage
  • Glycerides / analysis
  • Glycerides / metabolism
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Metabolic Diseases / metabolism*
  • Mood Disorders / metabolism*
  • Polyunsaturated Alkamides / analysis
  • Polyunsaturated Alkamides / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Stress, Physiological


  • Arachidonic Acids
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators
  • Dietary Fats
  • Endocannabinoids
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Glycerides
  • Polyunsaturated Alkamides
  • glyceryl 2-arachidonate
  • anandamide