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Biofactors. 2014 Jul-Aug;40(4):363-72. doi: 10.1002/biof.1158. Epub 2014 Feb 14.

Classical endocannabinoid-like compounds and their regulation by nutrients.

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Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.


Endocannabinoid-like compounds are structurally related to the true endocannabinoids but do not contain highly unsaturated fatty acids, and they do not bind the cannabinoid receptors. The classical endocannabinoid-like compounds include N-acylethanolamines and 2-monoacylglycerols, and their structural resemblance to the endocannabinoids makes them players in the endocannabinoid system, where they can interfere with the actions of the true endocannabinoids, because they in several cases engage the same synthesizing and degrading enzymes. In addition they have pharmacological actions of their own, which are particularly interesting in a nutritional and metabolic context. Exogenously supplied oleoylethanolamide, palmitoylethanolamide, and linoleoylethanolamide have anorexic effects, and the endogenous formation of these N-acylethanolamines in the small intestine may serve an important role in regulating food intake, through signaling via PPARα and the vagus nerve to the brain appetite center. A chronic high-fat diet will decrease intestinal levels of these anorectic N-acylethanolamines and this may contribute to the hyperphagic effect of high-fat diet; 2-monoacylglycerols mediate endocrine responses in the small intestine; probably trough activation of GPR119 on enteroendocrine cells, and diet-derived 2-monoacylglycerols, for example, 2-oleoylglycerol and 2-palmitoylglycerol might be important for intestinal fat sensing. Whether these 2-monoacylglycerols have signaling functions in other tissues is unclear at present.


2-oleoylglycerol; N-acylethanolamine; dietary fat; monoacylglycerol; oleoylethanolamide

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