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This article is the author's final published version in Brain Sciences, Volume 13, Issue 10, 2023, Article number 1375.

The published version is available at Copyright © 2023 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


BACKGROUND: Endocannabinoids and related N-acylethanolamines (NAEs) are bioactive lipids with important physiological functions and putative roles in mental health and addictions. Although chronic cannabis use is associated with endocannabinoid system changes, the status of circulating endocannabinoids and related NAEs in people with cannabis use disorder (CUD) is uncertain.

METHODS: Eleven individuals with CUD and 54 healthy non-cannabis using control participants (HC) provided plasma for measurement by high-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry of endocannabinoids (2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) and N-arachidonoylethanolamine (AEA)) and related NAE fatty acids (N-docosahexaenoylethanolamine (DHEA) and N-oleoylethanolamine (OEA)). Participants were genotyped for the functional gene variant of FAAH (rs324420, C385A) which may affect concentrations of AEA as well as other NAEs (OEA, DHEA).

RESULTS: In overnight abstinent CUD, AEA, OEA and DHEA concentrations were significantly higher (31-40%;

CONCLUSIONS: Our preliminary findings, requiring replication, might suggest that activity of the endocannabinoid system is elevated in chronic cannabis users. It is unclear whether this elevation is a compensatory response or a predating state. Studies examining endocannabinoids and NAEs during prolonged abstinence as well as the potential role of DHEA in craving are warranted.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.