The maintenance of intestinal homeostasis is fundamentally important to health. Intestinal barrier function and immune regulation are key determinants of intestinal homeostasis and are therefore tightly regulated by a variety of signaling mechanisms. The endocannabinoid system is a lipid mediator signaling system widely expressed in the gastrointestinal tract. Accumulating evidence suggests the endocannabinoid system is a critical nexus involved in the physiological processes that underlie the control of intestinal homeostasis. In this review we will illustrate how the endocannabinoid system is involved in regulation of intestinal permeability, fluid secretion and immune regulation. We will also demonstrate a reciprocal regulation between the endocannabinoid system and the gut microbiome. The role of the endocannabinoid system is complex and multifaceted, responding to both internal and external factors while also serving as an effector system for the maintenance of intestinal homeostasis.
Keywords: 2-arachidonoylglycerol, Anandamide, CB1 receptor, CB2 receptor, barrier function, cannabinoid, intestinal epithelium
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