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Expert Opin Ther Targets. 2015;19(11):1423-7. doi: 10.1517/14728222.2015.1062878. Epub 2015 Jun 30.

Endocannabinoid signaling in female reproductive events: a potential therapeutic target?

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a 1 Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome, Center of Integrated Research , Via Álvaro del Portillo 21, 00128 Rome, Italy +39 06 2254 19169 ; +39 06 2254 1456 ;
b 2 European Center for Brain Research, Santa Lucia Foundation , Rome, Italy.


Nearly 30 years after the discovery in 1964 of the psychoactive ingredient of cannabis (Cannabis sativa), Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol, its endogenous counterparts were discovered and collectively termed endocannabinoids (eCBs): N-arachidonoylethanolamine (anandamide) in 1992 and 2-arachidonoylglycerol in 1995. Since then, intense research has identified additional eCBs and an ensemble of proteins that bind, synthesize and degrade them, the so-called eCB system. Altogether, these new compounds have been recognized as key mediators of several aspects of human pathophysiology, and in particular of female fertility. Here, the main features of the eCB system are presented, in order to put in a better perspective the relevance of eCB signaling in virtually all steps of human reproduction and to highlight emerging hopes that elements of this system might indeed become novel targets to combat fertility problems.


immune regulation; implantation; oocyte maturation; oviductal transport; parturition; signaling pathways

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