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The Endocannabinoid System as a Target for Obesity Treatment

Elsevier B.V.
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s1098-3597(08)60028-9
  • Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychology


Overweight and obesity are major factors contributing to the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM) and cardiovascular disease (CVD). In addition to the many physical and metabolic consequences of obesity, there are also mental health consequences, in particular, the risk for depression. Depression can lead to poor self-care, poor treatment compliance, and possible increased morbidity and mortality from such illnesses as type 2 DM and CVD. Lifestyle modification for the treatment of overweight and obesity is rarely successful over the long term, and use of surgery is limited by eligibility criteria; therefore, researchers and clinicians continue to explore pharmacotherapy, with intense efforts being directed toward the development of agents that, optimally, will reduce weight and simultaneously reduce or eliminate modifiable cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors. Among the promising new agents are the CB 1 receptor antagonists. These agents target receptors of the endocannabinoid system, a neuromodulatory system recently found to influence energy balance, eating behavior, and metabolic homeostasis via central and peripheral mechanisms. In animal and clinical studies, antagonism of CB 1 receptors has resulted in meaningful weight loss and improvement of lipid and glycemic profiles. Thus, these agents may provide a rational and effective approach for the management of not only overweight and obesity but also their metabolic and cardiovascular sequelae.

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