The Endocannabinoid System: Pivotal Orchestrator of Obesity and Metabolic Disease

Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2015 Oct;26(10):524-537. doi: 10.1016/j.tem.2015.07.007.


The endocannabinoid system (ECS) functions to adjust behavior and metabolism according to environmental changes in food availability. Its actions range from the regulation of sensory responses to the development of preference for the consumption of calorically-rich food and control of its metabolic handling. ECS activity is beneficial when access to food is scarce or unpredictable. However, when food is plentiful, the ECS favors obesity and metabolic disease. We review recent advances in understanding the roles of the ECS in energy balance, and discuss newly identified mechanisms of action that, after the withdrawal of first generation cannabinoid type 1 (CB1) receptor antagonists for the treatment of obesity, have made the ECS once again an attractive target for therapy.

Keywords: CB(1); Endocannabinoids; energy balance; food intake; metabolism; obesity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Eating / physiology
  • Endocannabinoids / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Diseases / metabolism*
  • Obesity / metabolism*


  • Endocannabinoids