Endocannabinoid receptor antagonists: potential for obesity treatment
Kirkham, T.C. and Williams, C.M. (2004) Endocannabinoid receptor antagonists: potential for obesity treatment. Treatments in Endocrinology, 3 (6). pp. 345-60. ISSN 1175-6349
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Obesity has been described as a global epidemic. Its increasing prevalence is matched by growing costs, not only to the health of the individual, but also to the medical services required to treat a range of obesity-related diseases. In most instances, obesity is a product of progressively less energetic lifestyles and the over-consumption of readily available, palatable, and highly caloric foods. Past decades have seen massive investment in the search for effective anti-obesity therapies, so far with limited success. An important part of the process of developing new pharmacologic treatments for obesity lies in improving our understanding of the psychologic and physiologic processes that govern appetite and bodyweight regulation. Recent discoveries concerning the endogenous cannabinoids are beginning to give greater insight into these processes. Current research indicates that endocannabinoids may be key to the appetitive and consummatory aspects of eating motivation, possibly mediating the craving for and enjoyment of the most desired, most fattening foods. Additionally, endocannabinoids appear to modulate central and peripheral processes associated with fat and glucose metabolism. Selective cannabinoid receptor antagonists have been shown to suppress the motivation to eat, and preferentially reduce the consumption of palatable, energy-dense foods. Additionally, these agents act to reduce adiposity through metabolic mechanisms that are independent of changes in food intake. Given the current state of evidence, we conclude that the endocannabinoids represent an exciting target for new anti-obesity therapies.