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Handb Exp Pharmacol. 2015;231:423-47. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-20825-1_15.

Endocannabinoids and the Digestive Tract and Bladder in Health and Disease.

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Department of Pharmacy, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy.
Endocannabinoid Research Group, Naples, Italy.
Bioanalysis and Pharmacology of Bioactive Lipids Research Group, Louvain Drug Research Institute, Université catholique de Louvain, Bruxelles, Belgium.
Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, USA.
Institute of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology, Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria.


Components of the so-called endocannabinoid system, i.e., cannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoids, as well as enzymes involved in endocannabinoid synthesis and degradation, have been identified both in the gastrointestinal and in the urinary tract. Evidence suggests that the endocannabinoid system is implicated in many gastrointestinal and urinary physiological and pathophysiological processes, including epithelial cell growth, inflammation, analgesia, and motor function. A pharmacological modulation of the endocannabinoid system might be beneficial for widespread diseases such as gastrointestinal reflux disease, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, colon cancer, cystitis, and hyperactive bladder. Drugs that inhibit endocannabinoid degradation and raise the level of endocannabinoids, non-psychotropic cannabinoids (notably cannabidiol), and palmitoylethanolamide, an acylethanolamide co-released with the endocannabinoid anandamide, are promising candidates for gastrointestinal and urinary diseases.


2-Arachydonoylglycerol; Anandamide; Bladder; Cancer; Cannabidiol; Cannabinoid receptors; Cystitis; Fatty acid amide hydrolase; Inflammation; Monoacylglycerol lipase; Palmitoylethanolamide; Transient receptor potential channels

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