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Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2005 Jun;81(2):224-38.

The endocannabinoid signalling system: biochemical aspects.

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Endocannabinoid Research Group, Istituto di Chimica Biomolecolare, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Via Campi Flegrei 34, Comprensorio Olivetti, Fabbricato 70, 80078 Pozzuoli (Napoli), Italy.


Knowledge of the endogenous cannabinoid system has expanded greatly during the past years. After the discovery of the cannabinoid receptors, of their endogenous agonists and of the proteins for their synthesis and inactivation, significant progress has been made towards the understanding of the role of the endocannabinoid system in vital functions. Subsequently, an increasing number of papers has been published on the biochemistry and pharmacology of endocannabinoids. This article overviews the endocannabinoid signalling system with focus on its biochemical aspects. In particular we review the mechanisms for the biosynthesis and inactivation of the endocannabinoids, as well as the various molecular targets for some of the endocannabinoids described so far.

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