Altered pattern of cannabinoid type 1 receptor expression in adipose tissue of dysmetabolic and overweight patients

Riccardo Sarzani, Marica Bordicchia, Pierfrancesco Marcucci, Samuele Bedetta, Silvia Santini, Andrea Giovagnoli, Lorena Scappini, Daniele Minardi, Giovanni Muzzonigro, Paolo Dessì-Fulgheri, Alessandro Rappelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In overweight patients (OW), the increased peripheral activity of the endocannabinoid system in visceral adipose tissue (VAT) may be mediated by cannabinoid type 1 (CB1) receptor expression. We determined whether CB1 receptor splice variants and messenger RNA (mRNA) levels in perirenal and subcutaneous adipose tissues are associated with obesity and metabolic syndrome (MetS). Gene expression with multiple-primers real-time polymerase chain reaction (TaqMan; Applied Biosystem, Weiterstadt, Germany) was performed to study VAT and paired subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) mRNA from 36 consecutive patients undergoing nephrectomy. Cannabinoid type 1A and CB1E mRNAs variants with the longer version of exon 4 were expressed. The CB1 expression in perirenal VAT significantly correlated with body mass index (BMI). Paired subcutaneous/perirenal samples from normal-weight patients (BMI 2) showed higher CB1 expression in SAT (P = .002), whereas in OW (BMI ≥25 kg/m2), the higher CB1 expression was in VAT (P = .038). In unpaired samples, SAT of normal-weight patients had significantly higher CB1 mRNA levels compared with SAT of OW, whereas higher CB1 expression (P = .009) was found in VAT of OW (n = 25). Overweight patients with increased visceral CB1 expression had higher waist circumference (P <.01), insulin (P <.01), and homeostasis model assessment index (P <.01). In addition, patients with the MetS (n = 22) showed higher CB1 expression in perirenal adipose tissues (P = .007). Visceral adipose CB1 expression correlated with BMI. Overweight patients and those with MetS showed a CB1 expression pattern supporting a CB1-mediated overactivity of the endocannabinoid system in human VAT.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-367
Number of pages7
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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