The use of marijuana, which today is the most used recreational drug, has been demonstrated to affect adversely reproduction. Marijuana smokers, both men and women, show impaired fertility, owing to defective signalling pathways, aberrant hormonal regulation, or wrong timing during embryo implantation. Anandamide (N-arachidonoylethanolamine, AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) mimic Δ9- tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive principle of Cannabis sativa, by binding to both the brain-type (CB1) and the spleen-type (CB2) cannabinoid receptors. These 'endocannabinoids' exert several actions either in the central nervous system or in peripheral tissues, and are metabolised by specific enzymes that synthesise or hydrolyse them. In this review, we shall describe the elements that constitute the endocannabinod system (ECS), in order to put in a better perspective the role of this system in the control of human fertility, both in females and males. In addition, we shall discuss the interplay between ECS, sex hormones and cytokines, which generates an endocannabinoid-hormone-cytokine array critically involved in the control of human reproduction.
- Sex hormones
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