The endocannabinoid system: a new pharmacological target for obesity treatment?

Jia Hu, Chao Zhu, Mao Huang
Neuroscience Bulletin 2009, 25 (3): 153-60
Being a great threaten for human health, obesity has become a pandemic chronic disease. There have been several therapeutic treatments for this social health issue, including diet and exercise therapy, medication and surgery, among which the diet is still the most common way. However, none of these therapeutic measures available is ideal, making it necessary to find an effective medical treatment. The endocannabinoid system, which is well known for its contributions in certain mental processes such as relaxation, amelioration of pain and anxiety, and sedation initiation, has been recently reported to play an essential role in regulating appetite and metabolism to maintain energy balance, leading to the belief that endocannabinoid system is closely related to obesity. This new discovery deepens our understanding of obesity, and provides us with a new direction for clinical obesity treatment. Rimonabant is an antagonist for CB1, and has entered the market in some countries. However, although effective as an anti-obesity drug, rimonabant also causes obviously adverse side-effects, thus is being doubted and denied for medical usage.

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