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PLoS One. 2010 Jan 20;5(1):e8792. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0008792.

Biomarkers of endocannabinoid system activation in severe obesity.

Author information

  • 1Department of Molecular and Experimental Medicine, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California, United States of America. jcsipe@scripps.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Obesity is a worldwide epidemic, and severe obesity is a risk factor for many diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some cancers. Endocannabinoid system (ECS) signaling in the brain and peripheral tissues is activated in obesity and plays a role in the regulation of body weight. The main research question here was whether quantitative measurement of plasma endocannabinoids, anandamide, and related N-acylethanolamines (NAEs), combined with genotyping for mutations in fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) would identify circulating biomarkers of ECS activation in severe obesity.

METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:

Plasma samples were obtained from 96 severely obese subjects with body mass index (BMI) of > or = 40 kg/m(2), and 48 normal weight subjects with BMI of < or = 26 kg/m(2). Triple-quadrupole mass spectroscopy methods were used to measure plasma ECS analogs. Subjects were genotyped for human FAAH gene mutations. The principal analysis focused on the FAAH 385 C-->A (P129T) mutation by comparing plasma ECS metabolite levels in the FAAH 385 minor A allele carriers versus wild-type C/C carriers in both groups. The main finding was significantly elevated mean plasma levels of anandamide (15.1+/-1.4 pmol/ml) and related NAEs in study subjects that carried the FAAH 385 A mutant alleles versus normal subjects (13.3+/-1.0 pmol/ml) with wild-type FAAH genotype (p = 0.04), and significance was maintained after controlling for BMI.

CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE:

Significantly increased levels of the endocannabinoid anandamide and related NAEs were found in carriers of the FAAH 385 A mutant alleles compared with wild-type FAAH controls. This evidence supports endocannabinoid system activation due to the effect of FAAH 385 mutant A genotype on plasma AEA and related NAE analogs. This is the first study to document that FAAH 385 A mutant alleles have a direct effect on elevated plasma levels of anandamide and related NAEs in humans. These biomarkers may indicate risk for severe obesity and may suggest novel ECS obesity treatment strategies.

PMID:
20098695
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2808340
Free PMC Article
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