Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Endocannabinoid overactivity and intestinal inflammation
  1. V Di Marzo1,
  2. A A Izzo2
  1. 1Endocannabinoid Research Group, Institute of Biomolecular Chemistry, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Napoli, Italy
  2. 2Department of Experimental Pharmacology, University of Naples “Federico II”, Naples, Italy
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr V Di Marzo
    Endocannabinoid Research Group, Institute of Biomolecular Chemistry, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, via Campi Flegrei 34, 80078 Pozzuoli, Napoli, Italy; vdimarzo{at}


Cannabinoid receptors of type 1 and 2 (CB1 and CB2), endogenous ligands that activate them (endocannabinoids), and mechanisms for endocannabinoid biosynthesis and inactivation have been identified in the gastrointestinal system. Activation of CB1 receptors by endocannabinoids produces relaxation of the lower oesophageal sphincter and inhibition of gastric acid secretion, intestinal motility, and fluid stimulated secretion. However, stimulation of cannabinoid receptors impacts on gastrointestinal functions in several other ways. Recent data indicate that the endocannabinoid system in the small intestine and colon becomes over stimulated during inflammation in both animal models and human inflammatory disorders. The pathological significance of this “endocannabinoid overactivity” and its possible exploitation for therapeutic purposes are discussed here.

  • 2-AG, 2-arachidonoylglycerol
  • CB1 and CB2, cannabinoid receptors of type 1 and 2
  • DNBS, dinitrobenzene sulphonic acid
  • FAAH, fatty acid amide hydrolase
  • IBD, inflammatory bowel diseases
  • LPS, lipopolysaccharide
  • TNF-α, tumour necrosis factor α
  • TRPV1, transient receptor potential vanilloid type 1 channel
  • cannabinoid
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • vanilloid
  • colitis
  • intestinal inflammation

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.