A new role for anandamide: defective link between the systemic and skin endocannabinoid systems in hypertrophic human wound healing

Sci Rep. 2020 Jul 7;10(1):11134. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-68058-3.


The use of cannabinoids to treat fibrotic skin diseases is an emergent issue. Therefore, we aimed to evaluate systemic and skin endocannabinoid responses in the wound-healing process in humans. A prospective study was performed in 50 patients who underwent body-contouring surgery. Anandamide (N-arachidonoylethanolamine, AEA), 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) and oleoylethanolamide (OEA) were quantified using LC-MS/MS. Ten (20%) patients developed hypertrophic (HT) scars. No significant changes were observed between the normal (N) scar and HT scar groups in terms of plasma and skin endocannabinoids. Nevertheless, a positive correlation between plasma and skin AEA concentrations was found in the N group (r = 0.38, p = 0.015), which was absent in the HT group. Moreover, the AEA concentration was significantly lower in HT scar tissue than in normal scar tissue (0.77 ± 0.12 ng/g vs 1.15 ± 0.15 ng/g, p < 0.001). Interestingly, in all patients, the surgical intervention produced a time-dependent effect with a U shape for AEA, PEA and OEA plasma concentrations. In contrast, 2-AG plasma concentrations increased 5 days after surgery and were reduced and stabilized 3 months later. These results suggest crosstalk between systemic and local skin endocannabinoid systems during human wound healing. AEA appears to be the most likely candidate for this link, which is deficient in patients with HT scars.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arachidonic Acids / metabolism*
  • Body Contouring / adverse effects
  • Cicatrix / metabolism
  • Cicatrix, Hypertrophic / metabolism*
  • Endocannabinoids / metabolism*
  • Ethanolamines / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Polyunsaturated Alkamides / metabolism*
  • Skin / metabolism*
  • Surgical Wound / metabolism
  • Wound Healing*
  • Young Adult


  • Arachidonic Acids
  • Endocannabinoids
  • Ethanolamines
  • N-acylethanolamines
  • Polyunsaturated Alkamides
  • anandamide