There is increasing evidence demonstrating that fatty acid derivatives play a key regulatory role in a variety of tissues. However, the study of skeletal lipidomics is just emerging and global strategies, such as targeted lipidomics, have not been applied to bone tissue. Such strategies hold great promises as in the case of genomics and proteomics. A partial profile of endocannabinoids and endocannabinoid-like compounds has demonstrated the presence of several long-chain fatty acid amides (FAAs), some of which displaying potent effects on osteoblasts, the bone forming cells and osteoclasts, the bone resorbing cells. In the skeleton, the FAAs activate the CB(1) cannabinoid receptor present in sympathetic nerve terminals as well as CB(2) cannabinoid receptor, the Gi-protein coupled receptor GPR55, and the transient receptor potential vanilloid type ion channel expressed by osteoblasts and/or osteoclasts. This review on the skeletal FAA system focuses on the production of FAAs in the skeleton and their net bone anabolic and anti-catabolic activity resulting from the stimulation of bone formation and inhibition of bone resorption. As the FAA family holds great promise as a basis for the treatment of osteoporosis and other diseases involving bone, further studies should aim towards the complete profiling of these lipids and their receptors in bone tissue, followed by elucidation of their function and mechanism of action.
© 2011 The Authors. British Journal of Pharmacology © 2011 The British Pharmacological Society.