Developmental Role for Endocannabinoid Signaling in Regulating Glucose Metabolism and Growth

  1. Jeffrey M. Friedman
  1. Rockefeller University, New York, New York
  1. Corresponding author: Jeffrey M. Friedman, friedj{at}


Treatment of ob/ob (obese) mice with a cannabinoid receptor 1 (Cnr1) antagonist reduces food intake, suggesting a role for endocannabinoid signaling in leptin action. We further evaluated the role of endocannabinoid signaling by analyzing the phenotype of Cnr1 knockout ob/ob mice. Double mutant animals show a more severe growth retardation than ob/ob mice with similar levels of adiposity and reduced IGF-I levels without alterations of growth hormone (GH) levels. The double mutant mice are also significantly more glucose intolerant than ob/ob mice. This is in contrast to treatment of ob/ob mice with a Cnr1 antagonist that had no effect on glucose metabolism, suggesting a possible requirement for endocannabinoid signaling during development for normal glucose homeostasis. Double mutant animals also showed similar leptin sensitivity as ob/ob mice, suggesting that there are developmental changes that compensate for the loss of Cnr1 signaling. These data establish a role for Cnr1 during development and suggest that compensatory changes during development may mitigate the requirement for Cnr1 in mediating the effects of leptin. The data also suggest a developmental role for Cnr1 to promote growth, regulate the GH/IGF-I axis, and improve β-cell function and glucose homeostasis in the setting of leptin deficiency.


  • Received July 5, 2012.
  • Accepted February 9, 2013.

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  1. Diabetes vol. 62 no. 7 2359-2367
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