New insights on the role of the endocannabinoid system in the regulation of energy balance

Int J Obes (Lond). 2016 Feb;40(2):210-9. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2015.179. Epub 2015 Sep 16.


Within the past 15 years, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) has emerged as a lipid signaling system critically involved in the regulation of energy balance, as it exerts a regulatory control on every aspect related to the search, the intake, the metabolism and the storage of calories. An overactive endocannabinoid cannabinoid type 1 (CB1) receptor signaling promotes the development of obesity, insulin resistance and dyslipidemia, representing a valuable pharmacotherapeutic target for obesity and metabolic disorders. However, because of the psychiatric side effects, the first generation of brain-penetrant CB1 receptor blockers developed as antiobesity treatment were removed from the European market in late 2008. Since then, recent studies have identified new mechanisms of action of the ECS in energy balance and metabolism, as well as novel ways of targeting the system that may be efficacious for the treatment of obesity and metabolic disorders. These aspects will be especially highlighted in this review.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Obesity Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Dyslipidemias / drug therapy
  • Dyslipidemias / metabolism*
  • Dyslipidemias / prevention & control
  • Endocannabinoids / metabolism*
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects*
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamus / metabolism*
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Neurosecretory Systems / physiology
  • Obesity / drug therapy
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / antagonists & inhibitors*


  • Anti-Obesity Agents
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Antagonists
  • Endocannabinoids
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1