Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cannabinoid-blocking Weight-loss Drug Might Fight Alcoholic Fatty Liver

Date:
March 6, 2008
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
The cannabinoid receptors best known for delivering the psychological effects of marijuana also explain the connection between chronic alcohol use and a buildup of fat in the liver. Mice treated with rimonabant, a drug designed to block cannabinoid receptors, become resistant to alcohol's fat-building effects in the liver. Rimonabant is now in use for weight loss in several European countries but has not received FDA approval for use in the United States.

The cannabinoid receptors best known for delivering the psychological effects of marijuana also explain the connection between chronic alcohol use and a buildup of fat in the liver, according to a report in the March issue of Cell Metabolism. Alcoholic fatty liver can progress to more serious disease, and alcoholism is a leading cause of liver disease in Western societies.

Related Articles


The researchers also found that mice treated with rimonabant, a drug designed to block cannabinoid receptors, become resistant to alcohol's fat-building effects in the liver. Rimonabant is now in use for weight loss in several European countries but has not received FDA approval for use in the United States.

"What makes these findings particularly interesting from our perspective is that they may have practical implications," said George Kunos of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. "Treatment of animals with a [cannabinoid receptor] antagonist largely prevented alcohol's effect. It suggests that the development of fatty liver in those who use alcohol could be interfered with, or perhaps reversed, with such treatment."

In addition to alcoholism, obesity can also lead to the development of fatty liver disease. Scientists have shown that natural cannabinoids, so-called endocannabinoids, and CB1 cannabinoid receptors in the livers of mice are increased when animals are fed a high-fat diet. Studies have also shown that mice lacking CB1 receptors and mice treated with drugs that block these receptors are protected from obesity and fatty liver.

"Similar to high-fat diet, chronic ethanol exposure can increase endocannabinoid levels, at least in the brain," the researchers said. The apparent similarities between diet- and ethanol-induced changes in fat metabolism and endocannabinoid activity in the liver suggested that endocannabinoids might also be a culprit in ethanol-induced fatty liver.

Kunos's team now shows that mice fed a low-fat diet and ethanol show an increase in the gene encoding the CB1 receptor and in liver levels of one endocannabinoid, 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). These mice also developed fatty livers. In contrast, the livers of mice fed the ethanol diet plus rimonabant did not differ in fat content from those of mice fed a control diet. Similarly, mice lacking CB1 receptors, either throughout the body or only in the liver, gained protection from alcoholic fatty liver.

"Although alcoholic fatty liver is reversible in its early stages by cessation of drinking, this is often not feasible," the researchers concluded. "The present findings suggest that treatment with a CB1 antagonist may slow the development of fatty liver and thus prevent or delay its progression to more severe and irreversible forms of liver disease."

Drugs designed to selectively act on CB1 receptors found outside of the brain might fight fatty liver with less risk of adverse side effects, including anxiety and depression, they added. "Rimonabant has recently been introduced in Europe for the treatment of visceral obesity and the metabolic syndrome, which themselves are known risk factors for [liver disease]. Clinical trials testing the effectiveness of CB1 receptor blockers in the treatment of both alcoholic and nonalcoholic fatty liver and their more severe sequelae may be warranted."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Cannabinoid-blocking Weight-loss Drug Might Fight Alcoholic Fatty Liver." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 March 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080304124345.htm>.
Cell Press. (2008, March 6). Cannabinoid-blocking Weight-loss Drug Might Fight Alcoholic Fatty Liver. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080304124345.htm
Cell Press. "Cannabinoid-blocking Weight-loss Drug Might Fight Alcoholic Fatty Liver." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080304124345.htm (accessed November 23, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

AFP (Nov. 23, 2014) The arable district of Kenema in Sierra Leone -- at the centre of the Ebola outbreak in May -- has been under quarantine for three months as the cocoa harvest comes in. Duration: 01:32 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Don't Fall For Flu Shot Myths

Don't Fall For Flu Shot Myths

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) Misconceptions abound when it comes to your annual flu shot. Medical experts say most people older than 6 months should get the shot. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) Having children has always been a frightening prospect in Sierra Leone, the world's most dangerous place to give birth, but Ebola has presented an alarming new threat for expectant mothers. Duration: 00:37 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins