European Journal of Nutrition

, Volume 55, Issue 4, pp 1799–1805 | Cite as

Responses of peripheral endocannabinoids and endocannabinoid-related compounds to hedonic eating in obesity

  • A M Monteleone
  • V Di MarzoEmail author
  • P MonteleoneEmail author
  • R Dalle Grave
  • T Aveta
  • M El Ghoch
  • F Piscitelli
  • U Volpe
  • S Calugi
  • M Maj
Original Contribution



Hedonic eating occurs independently from homeostatic needs prompting the ingestion of pleasurable foods that are typically rich in fat, sugar and/or salt content. In normal weight healthy subjects, we found that before hedonic eating, plasma levels of 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) were higher than before nonhedonic eating, and although they progressively decreased after food ingestion in both eating conditions, they were significantly higher in hedonic eating. Plasma levels of anandamide (AEA), oleoylethanolamide (OEA) and palmitoylethanolamide (PEA), instead, progressively decreased in both eating conditions without significant differences. In this study, we investigated the responses of AEA, 2-AG, OEA and PEA to hedonic eating in obese individuals.


Peripheral levels of AEA, 2-AG, OEA and PEA were measured in 14 obese patients after eating favourite (hedonic eating) and non-favourite (nonhedonic eating) foods in conditions of no homeostatic needs.


Plasma levels of 2-AG increased after eating the favourite food, whereas they decreased after eating the non-favourite food, with the production of the endocannabinoid being significantly enhanced in hedonic eating. Plasma levels of AEA decreased progressively in nonhedonic eating, whereas they showed a decrease after the exposure to the favourite food followed by a return to baseline values after eating it. No significant differences emerged in plasma OEA and PEA responses to favourite and non-favourite food.


Present findings compared with those obtained in our previously studied normal weight healthy subjects suggest deranged responses of endocannabinoids to food-related reward in obesity.


Endocannabinoids Hedonic eating Obesity Reward 


Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical standards

All the participants signed a written informed consent; the study was approved by the Ethics Committee of the University of Naples SUN; all the procedures were in accordance with the ethical standards laid down by the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • A M Monteleone
    • 1
  • V Di Marzo
    • 2
    Email author
  • P Monteleone
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • R Dalle Grave
    • 4
  • T Aveta
    • 2
  • M El Ghoch
    • 4
  • F Piscitelli
    • 2
  • U Volpe
    • 1
  • S Calugi
    • 4
  • M Maj
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Naples SUNNaplesItaly
  2. 2.Endocannabinoid Research Group, Institute of Biomolecular ChemistryConsiglio Nazionale delle RicerchePozzuoliItaly
  3. 3.Neuroscience Section, Department of Medicine and SurgeryUniversity of SalernoBaronissiItaly
  4. 4.Department of Eating and Weight DisordersVilla Garda HospitalGardaItaly

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