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World J Gastroenterol. 2008 Oct 28;14(40):6109-14.

Role of cannabinoids in chronic liver diseases.

Abstract

Cannabinoids are a group of compounds acting primarily via CB1 and CB2 receptors. The expression of cannabinoid receptors in normal liver is low or absent. However, many reports have proven up-regulation of the expression of CB1 and CB2 receptors in hepatic myofibroblasts and vascular endothelial cells, as well as increased concentration of endocannabinoids in liver in the course of chronic progressive liver diseases. It has been shown that CB1 receptor signalling exerts profibrogenic and proinflammatory effects in liver tissue, primarily due to the stimulation of hepatic stellate cells, whereas the activation of CB2 receptors inhibits or even reverses liver fibrogenesis. Similarly, CB1 receptor stimulation contributes to progression of liver steatosis. In end-stage liver disease, the endocannabinoid system has been shown to contribute to hepatic encephalopathy and vascular effects, such as portal hypertension, splanchnic vasodilatation, relative peripheral hypotension and probably cirrhotic cardiomyopathy. So far, available evidence is based on cellular cultures or animal models. Clinical data on the effects of cannabinoids in chronic liver diseases are limited. However, recent studies have shown the contribution of cannabis smoking to the progression of liver fibrosis and steatosis. Moreover, controlling CB1 or CB2 signalling appears to be an attractive target in managing liver diseases.

PMID:
18985799
PMCID:
PMC2761570
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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