Endocannabinoids, “New-Old” Mediators of Stress Homeostasis



The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is an old and evolutionarily well preserved neurobiologic system controlling some key elements of organ homeostasis. In contrast to its long biologic history, the scientific record of the ECS is very short. Whereas the occurrence of genes for the endocannabinoid receptors has been described in ancient animals reaching at least as far back as the predecessor of tetrapods (amphibians reptiles, birds, and mammals), modern science has only more recently demonstrated that the ECS is involved in the regulation of a wide range of essential central and peripheral processes which include metabolism and feeding behavior, inflammatory- and anti-inflammatory immunologic reactions, neurobehavioral changes during stress and anxiety and the regulation of central functions such as cognition and memory. One of the most important roles of the ECS lies in the regulation and orchestration of the central and immunologic stress response to aversive and threatening life conditions. There are already data that the ECS is affected in humans during highly aversive conditions of parabolic flights and space flights as well as in other extreme living conditions (e.g. Antarctica). The ECS may therefore have an important function for adaption processes in such aversive conditions.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnaesthesiologyHospital of the Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU)MunichGermany
  2. 2.Department of Cardiac SurgerySemmelweis UniversityBudapestHungary

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