Targeting the cannabinoid receptors to regulate blood glucose level and body weight

Influence of Cannabinoid Receptor Deficiency on Parameters Involved in Blood Glucose Regulation in Mice

In Summary

The pancreas is the organ that produces insulin and its lesser known counterpart, glucagon, both of which are responsible for regulating blood sugar. The pancreas’ function, therefore, is implicated in regulation of the body weight and consequently, conditions such as obesity. The two cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, are known to be expressed in pancreatic cells. Indeed, cannabinoids – compounds that can be produced naturally by our body, synthesized artificially, or extracted from the plant cannabis – have long been shown to influence the secretion of insulin and glucagon by the pancreas via these receptors.

However, it was not until recently that scientists demonstrated the impacts of CB1’s and CB2’s activities on blood glucose level and weight regulation by the pancreas. In particular, they found that in mice without pancreatic CB1 receptors, both blood sugar levels and body weights decreased compared to normal mice. In contrast, in mice without pancreatic CB2 receptors, blood glucose levels were found to be elevated and body weights to increase compared to normal mice, especially in male animals. These insights can be translated into weight management approaches. For instance, a drug that blocks CB1 receptors’ function or one that activates CB2 receptors in humans may lead to the same effects of decreasing body weight and therefore can represent an promising obesity management strategy.


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