The endocannabinoids are part of a large family of lipid signaling molecules derived from arachidonic acid, including the prostaglandins and leukotrienes, which are important mediators of inflammation. Far less is known about the newer members of the endocannabinoid group, and it remains unclear whether they all play important functional roles. This chapter reviews the multiple members of this family and their biosynthesis and inactivation. Physiological functions, including retrograde synaptic signaling, control of energy metabolism, regulation of pain sensitivity, and cardiovascular control, are discussed. In addition, the chapter reports the synthesis of novel agonists, antagonists, and compounds inhibiting endocannabinoid inactivation as novel medicines.
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