Endocannabinoid remodeling in murine cachexic muscle associates with catabolic and metabolic regulation

Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Basis Dis. 2024 Jun;1870(5):167179. doi: 10.1016/j.bbadis.2024.167179. Epub 2024 Apr 21.


Muscle degeneration is a common feature in cancer cachexia that cannot be reversed. Recent advances show that the endocannabinoid system, and more particularly cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1), regulates muscle processes, including metabolism, anabolism and regenerative capacity. However, it is unclear whether muscle endocannabinoids, their receptors and enzymes are responsive to cachexia and exercise. Therefore, this study investigated whether cachexia and exercise affected muscle endocannabinoid signaling, and whether CB1 expression correlated with markers of muscle anabolism, catabolism and metabolism. Male BALB/c mice were injected with PBS (CON) or C26 colon carcinoma cells (C26) and had access to wheel running (VWR) or remained sedentary (n = 5-6/group). Mice were sacrificed 18 days upon PBS/tumor cell injection. Cachexic mice exhibited a lower muscle CB1 expression (-43 %; p < 0.001) and lower levels of the endocannabinoid anandamide (AEA; -22 %; p = 0.044), as well as a lower expression of the AEA-synthesizing enzyme NAPE-PLD (-37 %; p < 0.001), whereas the expression of the AEA degrading enzyme FAAH was higher (+160 %; p < 0.001). The 2-AG-degrading enzyme MAGL, was lower in cachexic muscle (-34 %; p = 0.007), but 2-AG and its synthetizing enzyme DAGLβ were not different between CON and C26. VWR increased muscle CB1 (+25 %; p = 0.005) and increased MAGL expression (+30 %; p = 0.035). CB1 expression correlated with muscle mass, markers of metabolism (e.g. p-AMPK, PGC1α) and of catabolism (e.g. p-FOXO, LC3b, Atg5). Our findings depict an emerging role of the endocannabinoid system in muscle physiology. Future studies should elaborate how this translates into potential therapies to combat cancer cachexia, and other degenerative conditions.

Keywords: Anabolism; Atrophy; Cachexia; Endocannabinoid system; Exercise.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arachidonic Acids / metabolism
  • Cachexia* / metabolism
  • Cachexia* / pathology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Colonic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Endocannabinoids* / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C*
  • Muscle, Skeletal* / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal* / pathology
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal
  • Polyunsaturated Alkamides / metabolism
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1* / genetics
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1* / metabolism


  • anandamide