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Keywords:

  • cannabinoid receptors;
  • endocannabinoid metabolism;
  • TRPV1 vanilloid receptors;
  • peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors

In this review, we present our understanding of the action and metabolism of endocannabinoids and related endogenous molecules. It is clear that the interactions between the multiple endocannabinoid-like molecules (ECLs) are highly complex, both at the level of signal transduction and metabolism. Thus, ECLs are a group of ligands active at 7-transmembrane and nuclear receptors, as well as transmitter-gated and ion channels. ECLs and their metabolites can converge on common endpoints (either metabolic or signalling) through contradictory or reinforcing pathways. We highlight the complexity of the endocannabinoid system, based on the promiscuous nature of ECLs and their metabolites, as well as the synthetic modulators of the endocannabinoid system.

British Journal of Pharmacology (2007) 152, 602–623; doi:10.1038/sj.bjp.0707456; published online 17 September 2007