Endocannabinoids as autoregulatory signaling molecules: coupling to nitric oxide and a possible association with the relaxation response

Author: Stefano GB, Esch T, Cadet P, Zhu W, Mantione K, Benson H
The Mind/Body Medical Institute, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02215, USA. gstefano@sunynri.org
Conference/Journal: Med Sci Monit
Date published: 2003 Apr
Other: Volume ID: 9 , Issue ID: 4 , Pages: RA63-75 , Word Count: 147

Endocannabinoid signaling processes are present in diverse organisms and in organisms 500 million years divergent in evolution. Cannabinoid receptor-1 expression (CB1), anandamide, and anandamide amidase have been found in invertebrates. Furthermore, this signaling system is coupled to constitutive nitric oxide synthase (cNOS)-derived nitric oxide (NO) release in both vertebrates and invertebrates, thereby regulating neural, immune, and vascular-like functions in these divergent organisms. In human endothelial cells from various blood vessels, CB1 immunoreactive components are present as is its coupling to anandamide-stimulated cNOS-derived NO production, which exerts an autoregulatory role on cNOS release. The modulation of vascular diameter and vascular tone represents a crucial point of interest in these pathways, and interactions between NO and the sympathetic nerve system are of importance, i.e, norepinephrine. Here, a possible association of NO and endocannabinoid signaling with the relaxation response, a physiological counterpart of the stress response, may exist. PMID: 12709683