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Diabetologia. 2009 Feb;52(2):213-7. doi: 10.1007/s00125-008-1178-6.

Changes in plasma endocannabinoid levels in viscerally obese men following a 1 year lifestyle modification programme and waist circumference reduction: associations with changes in metabolic risk factors.

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



We previously reported that the plasma levels of the endocannabinoid, 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), in a cohort of viscerally obese men are directly correlated with visceral adipose tissue (VAT) accumulation and metabolic risk factors including low HDL-cholesterol and high triacylglycerol. It is not known, however, if such correlations persist after vigorous lifestyle interventions that reduce metabolic risk factors. We analysed the changes in endocannabinoid levels in a subsample from the same cohort following a 1 year lifestyle modification programme, and correlated them with changes in VAT and metabolic risk factors.


Forty-nine viscerally obese men (average age 49 years, BMI 30.9 kg/m(2), waist 107.3 cm) underwent a 1 year lifestyle modification programme including healthy eating and physical activity. Plasma levels of 2-AG and the other most studied endocannabinoid, anandamide, were measured by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Anthropometric and metabolic risk factors, including VAT, insulin resistance and glucose intolerance, HDL-cholesterol and triacylglycerol, were measured.


Most risk factors were improved by the intervention, which led to a significant decrease in body weight (-6.4 kg, p < 0.0001), waist circumference (-8.0 cm, p < 0.0001) and VAT (-30%, p < 0.0001), and in plasma 2-AG (-62.3%, p < 0.0001) and anandamide (-7.1%, p = 0.005) levels. The decrease in levels of 2-AG but not those of anandamide correlated with decreases in VAT and triacylglycerol levels, and with the increase in HDL(3)-cholesterol levels. Multivariate analyses suggested that decreases in 2-AG and VAT were both independently associated with decreases in triacylglycerol.


This study shows that a strong correlation exists between 2-AG levels and high plasma triacylglycerol and low HDL(3)-cholesterol in viscerally obese men.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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