Downstream effects of endocannabinoid on blood cells: Implications for health and disease

Valeria Gasperi, Daniela Evangelista, Isabella Savini, Domenico Del Principe, Luciana Avigliano, Mauro Maccarrone, Maria Valeria Catani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Endocannabinoids (eCBs), among which N-arachidonoylethanolamine (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) are the most biologically active members, are polyunsaturated lipids able to bind cannabinoid, vanilloid and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors. Depending on the target engaged, these bioactive mediators can regulate different signalling pathways, at both central and peripheral levels. The biological action of eCBs is tightly controlled by a plethora of metabolic enzymes which, together with the molecular targets of these substances, form the so-called "endocannabinoid system". The ability of eCBs to control manifold peripheral functions has received a great deal of attention, especially in the light of their widespread distribution in the body. In particular, eCBs are important regulators in blood, where they modulate haematopoiesis, platelet aggregation and apoptosis, as well as chemokine release and migration of immunocompetent cells. Here, we shall review the current knowledge on the pathophysiological roles of eCBs in blood. We shall also discuss the involvement of eCBs in those disorders affecting the haematological system, including cancer and inflammation. Knowledge gained to date underlines a fundamental role of the eCB system in blood, thus suggesting that it may represent a therapeutic promise for a broad range of diseases involving impaired hematopoietic cell functions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3235-3252
Number of pages18
JournalCellular and Molecular Life Sciences
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - May 10 2015


  • Bioactive lipids
  • Blood diseases
  • Cancer
  • Haematopoiesis
  • Leukocytes
  • Platelets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Medicine(all)


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