Two subtypes of G protein-coupled receptors for cannabis's psychotropic component, A9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), have been cloned to date, the cannabinoid CBi and CB2 receptors (Howlett et al. 2004). Yet, five different types of endogenous agonists for these cannabinoid receptors have been identified so far (Fig. 1). These compounds, named endocannabinoids by analogy with THC (Di Marzo and Fontana 1995), are all derived from long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. In particular: (1) the anandamides are amides of ethanolamine with polyunsaturated fatty acids with at least 20 carbon atoms and three 1,4-diene double bonds. The C20:4 homologue in this series, N-arachidonoylethanolamine (AEA) (Devane et al. 1992), also known simply as anandamide, has been most studied.
Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Endocannabinoid Research Group, Institute of Biomolecular Chemistry,
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