Cannabinoids pp 555-571 | Cite as

Effects of Cannabinoids on Hypothalamic and Reproductive Function

Part of the Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology book series (HEP, volume 168)


Marijuana and cannabinoids have been shown to exert profound effects on hypothalamic regulatory functions and reproduction in both experimental animals and humans. Here we review the role of (endo) cannabinoids in the regulation of appetite and food intake. There is converging evidence that the hypothalamic endocannabinoid system changes after leptin treatment. Cannabinoid administration decreases heat production by altering hypothalamic neurotransmitter production. Experimental and human data have also shown that the endocannabinoid system is involved in the regulation of reproductive function at both central and peripheral levels. We discuss also the role of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) in gestation, and in particular the regulation of the activity of FAAH by progesterone and leptin. We show that endocannabinoids inhibit the release of leukaemia inhibitory factor (LIF) from peripheral T lymphocytes. Taken together, endocannabinoids not only help to maintain neuroendocrine homeostasis, but also take part in immunological changes occurring during early pregnancy.


Appetite Cytokines Endocannabinoids Hypothalamus Lymphocytes Pituitary Pregnancy Reproduction Sex hormones Thermoregulation 


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© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biomedical SciencesUniversity of TeramoTeramoItaly
  2. 2.Department of Human Morphology and Developmental BiologySemmelweis UniversityBudapestHungary

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