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Trends Cardiovasc Med. 2007 Feb;17(2):35-43.

Endocannabinoid antagonism: blocking the excess in the treatment of high-risk abdominal obesity.

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Division of Cardiology, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA.


Abdominal obesity is a prevalent, worldwide problem linked to cardiometabolic comorbidities and an increased risk of coronary heart disease. First-line therapy to reduce such risk revolves around diet and exercise; however, such changes are often difficult to implement and unsuccessful. Understanding the underlying pathophysiology of underlying metabolic derangements could provide new targets for pharmacologic therapy. One system that has gained recent attention is the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system has a significant role in central appetite control and peripheral lipogenesis and is up-regulated in diet-induced obesity. Rimonabant is a selective cannabinoid-1 receptor antagonist and is the first compound of its type to test the hypothesis that down-regulating an overactive endocannabinoid system could have therapeutic benefit not only for weight loss but also for the atherogenic dyslipidemia and insulin resistance that cluster with abdominal obesity in particular. Animal models have been critical for elucidating the role of the endocannabinoid system in obesity and in demonstrating that antagonism with rimonabant can induce loss of visceral fat and improve insulin sensitivity. Early human trials with rimonabant have confirmed significant reductions in weight, as well as favorable changes in atherogenic dyslipidemia, insulin resistance, and markers of inflammation. Interestingly, some of these beneficial metabolic effects are partially weight-loss-independent, confirming the importance of peripheral endocannabinoid system effects in addition to central effects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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