N-arachidonoylethanolamine (anandamide), an endogenous cannabinoid receptor ligand, and related lipid molecules in the nervous tissues

J Lipid Mediat Cell Signal. 1996 Sep;14(1-3):51-6. doi: 10.1016/0929-7855(96)00508-1.


The effects of N-arachidonoylethanolamine (anandamide) and related compounds on the binding of [3H]CP55940 to rat brain synaptosomes were examined. Anandamide was shown to inhibit competitively the specific binding of [3H]CP55940 to synaptosomal membranes. The Ki value was 89 nM. In contrast, N-acylethanolamines containing saturated or monoenoic fatty acids did not exhibit high binding affinity. Several structural analogues of anandamide showed some binding activity. Among them, 2-arachidonoylglycerol is noteworthy because of its occurrence in mammalian tissues. A biosynthetic study indicated that anandamide can be synthesized via two separate synthetic pathways. The first is synthesis from free arachidonic acid and ethanolamine, and the second is the formation of N-arachidonoyl phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) from diarachidonoyl phospholipids and PE and the subsequent enzymatic release of N-arachidonoylethanolamine. The latter pathway appears to explain very well the fatty acid composition of N-acylethanolamines present in mammalian tissues.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arachidonic Acids / metabolism*
  • Endocannabinoids
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Lipid Metabolism*
  • Nervous System / metabolism*
  • Polyunsaturated Alkamides
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid
  • Receptors, Drug / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Drug / metabolism*


  • Arachidonic Acids
  • Endocannabinoids
  • Ligands
  • Polyunsaturated Alkamides
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid
  • Receptors, Drug
  • anandamide