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ACS Chem Neurosci. 2014 Nov 19;5(11):1097-106. doi: 10.1021/cn5000875. Epub 2014 Jun 5.

Terpenes and lipids of the endocannabinoid and transient-receptor-potential-channel biosignaling systems.

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Center for Drug Discovery and Departments of Chemistry and Chemical Biology and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Northeastern University , Boston, Massachusetts 02115-5000, United States.


Endocananbnoid-system G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) and transient receptor potential (TRP) cation channels are critical components of cellular biosignaling networks. These plasma-membrane proteins are pleiotropic in their ability to interact with and engage structurally diverse ligands. The endocannabinoid and TRP signaling systems overlap in their recognition properties with respect to select naturally occurring plant-derived ligands that belong to the terpene and lipid chemical classes, the overlap establishing a physiological connectivity between these two ubiquitous cell-signaling systems. Identification and pharmacological profiling of phytochemicals engaged by cannabinoid GPCRs and/or TRP channels has inspired the synthesis of novel designer ligands that interact with cannabinoid receptors and/or TRP channels as xenobiotics. Functional interplay between the endocannabinoid and TRP-channel signaling systems is responsible for the antinocifensive action of some synthetic cananbinoids (WIN55,212-2 and AM1241), vasorelaxation by the endocannabinoid N-arachidonylethanolamide (anandamide), and the pain-relief afforded by the synthetic anandamide analogue N-arachidonoylaminophenol (AM404), the active metabolite of the widely used nonprescription analgesic and antipyretic acetaminophen (paracetamol). The biological actions of some plant-derived cannabinoid-receptor (e.g., Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol) or TRP-channel (e.g,, menthol) ligands either carry abuse potential themselves or promote the use of other addictive substances, suggesting the therapeutic potential for modulating these signaling systems for abuse-related disorders. The pleiotropic nature of and therapeutically relevant interactions between cananbinergic and TRP-channel signaling suggest the possibility of dual-acting ligands as drugs.


Drug discovery; G-protein coupled receptors; endocananbinoid; ion channels; ligands; phytocannabinoid; phytochemicals; signal transduction

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