Plant Fatty Acid Amides And The Human Endocannabinoid System

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Since the discovery that endogenous lipid mediators show similar cannabimimetic effects as phytocannabinoids from CANNABIS SATIVA, our knowledge about the endocannabinoid system has rapidly expanded. Today, endocannabinoid action is known to be involved in various diseases, including inflammation and pain. As a consequence, the G-protein coupled cannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoid transport, as well as endocannabinoid metabolizing enzymes represent targets to block or enhance cannabinoid receptor-mediated signalling for therapeutic intervention. Based on the finding that certain endocannabinoid-like fatty acid N-alkylamides from purple coneflower ( ECHINACEA spp.) potently activate CB2 cannabinoid receptors we have focused our interest on plant fatty acid amides (FAAs) and their overall cannabinomodulatory effects. Certain FAAs are also able to partially inhibit the action of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), which controls the breakdown of endocannabinoids. Intriguingly, plants lack CB receptors and do not synthesize endocannabinoids, but express FAAH homologues capable of metabolizing plant endogenous N-acylethanolamines (NAEs). While the site of action of these NAEs in plants is unknown, endogenous NAEs and arachidonic acid glycerols in animals interact with distinct physiological lipid receptors, including cannabinoid receptors. There is increasing evidence that also plant FAAs other than NAEs can pharmacologically modulate the action of these endogenous lipid signals. The interference of plant FAAs with the animal endocannabinoid system could thus be a fortunate evolutionary cross point with yet unexplored therapeutic potential.

Source: Immunomodulatory lipids in plants: plant fatty ac... [Planta Med. 2008] - PubMed - NCBI
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