Elevated endocannabinoid plasma levels are associated with coronary circulatory dysfunction in obesity

Alessandra Quercioli, Zoltan Pataky, Gabriella Vincenti, Vincent Makoundou, Vincenzo Di Marzo, Fabrizio Montecucco, Sebastian Carballo, Aurlien Thomas, Christian Staub, Sabine Steffens, Yann Seimbille, Alain Golay, Osman Ratib, Elisabetta Harsch, Franois MacH, Thomas H. Schindler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


AimsAim of this study was to evaluate a possible association between endocannabinoid (EC) plasma levels, such as anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), and coronary circulatory function in obesity. Methods and resultsMyocardial blood flow (MBF) responses to cold pressor test (CPT) and during pharmacological vasodilation with dipyridamole were measured with 13N-ammonia PET/CT. Study participants (n = 77) were divided into three groups based on their body mass index (BMI, kg/m 2): control group = 20≤ BMI <25 (n = 21); overweight group, 25≤ BMI <30 (n = 26); and obese group, BMI <30 (n = 30). Anandamide plasma levels, but not 2-AG plasma levels, were significantly elevated in obesity as compared with controls, respectively [0.68 (0.53, 0.78) vs. 0.56 (0.47, 0.66) ng/mL, P = 0.020, and 2.2 (1.21, 4.59) vs. 2.0 (0.80, 5.90) ng/mL, P = 0.806)]. The endothelium-related change in MBF during CPT from rest (ΔMBF) progressively declined in overweight and obese when compared with control group [0.21 (0.10, 0.27) and 0.09 (-0.01, 0.15) vs. 0.26 (0.23, 0.39) mL/g/min; P = 0.010 and P = 0.0001, respectively). Compared with controls, hyperaemic MBFs were significantly lower in overweight and obese individuals [2.39 (1.97, 2.62) vs. 1.98 (1.69, 2.26) and 2.10 (1.76, 2.36); P = 0.007 and P = 0.042, respectively)]. In obese individuals, AEA and 2-AG plasma levels were inversely correlated with ΔMBF to CPT (r = -0.37, P = 0.046 and r = -0.48, P = 0.008) and hyperaemic MBFs (r = -0.38, P = 0.052 and r = -0.45, P = 0.017), respectively. Conclusion sIncreased EC plasma levels of AEA and 2-AG are associated with coronary circulatory dysfunction in obese individuals. This observation might suggest increases in EC plasma levels as a novel endogenous cardiovascular risk factor in obesity, but needing further investigations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1369-1378
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean heart journal
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • blood flow
  • circulation
  • coronary disease
  • endocannabinoids
  • endothelium
  • obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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