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Eur J Pharmacol. 2008 Apr 7;583(2-3):322-39. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2007.12.033. Epub 2008 Jan 31.

Glucocorticoids shift arachidonic acid metabolism toward endocannabinoid synthesis: a non-genomic anti-inflammatory switch.

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  • 1Center for Genetic Resources, and Biotechnology, EMBRAPA, Brasília, DF, Brazil. malcherlopes@gmail.com


Glucocorticoids are capable of exerting both genomic and non-genomic actions in target cells of multiple tissues, including the brain, which trigger an array of electrophysiological, metabolic, secretory and inflammatory regulatory responses. Here, we have attempted to show how glucocorticoids may generate a rapid anti-inflammatory response by promoting arachidonic acid-containing endocannabinoids biosynthesis. According to our hypothesized model, non-genomic action of glucocorticoids results in the global shift of membrane lipid metabolism, subverting metabolic pathways toward the synthesis of the anti-inflammatory endocannabinoids, anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoyl-glycerol (2-AG), and away from arachidonic acid production. Post-transcriptional inhibition of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX(2)) synthesis by glucocorticoids assists this mechanism by suppressing the synthesis of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins as well as endocannabinoid-derived prostanoids. In the central nervous system (CNS) this may represent a major neuroprotective system, which may cross-talk with leptin signaling in the hypothalamus allowing for the coordination between energy homeostasis and the inflammatory response.

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