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Keywords:

  • diet;
  • endocannabinoid system;
  • fatty acids

Abstract

Diet plays a central role in maintaining health throughout life and a controlled food intake is associated to a reduced risk of certain diseases. A proper diet should include vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats that have to be optimally balanced in order to exert their physiological functions. The endogenous ligands of type-1 and type-2 cannabinoid receptors, N-arachidonoyl-ethanolamine and 2-arachidonoylglycerol, are arachidonic acid (AA) derivatives whose levels are regulated by the activity of metabolic enzymes, as well as by AA availability. Since the only sources of AA in mammals are diet and the enzymatic production in the liver from shorter-chain essential fatty acids like linoleic acid, it is realistic to hypothesize that endocannabinoid levels might be modulated by fatty acid composition of food. Therefore, in this review we summarize literature data indicating that endocannabinoid levels, and hence their activity at cannabinoid receptors, might be modulated by food composition. We focused our attention on dietary fatty acid content, and on type and esterified form of fatty acids in the different diets. © 2014 BioFactors, 40(4):373–380, 2014