Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
|Molecular mass||347.53 g/mol|
Anandamide, also known as arachidonylethanolamine or AEA, is a naturally occurring endogenous cannabinoid neurotransmitter found in the brain of animals. The name is taken from the Sanskrit word ananda, which means "bliss", and amide.
Anandamide's effects can be either central, in the brain, or peripheral, in other parts of the body.
The receptor that anandamide binds to is one member of the largest known family of receptors, the G protein-coupled receptors, which have a distinctive pattern in which the receptor molecule spans the cell membrane seven times over.
Anandamide receptors were originally discovered as being sensitive to Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC), which is among the psychoactive cannabinoids found in marijuana. The discovery of anandamide came from research into the natural neurotransmitter that affected these receptors. Endogenous cannabinoids also occur in minute quantities in the cocoa (fermented Theobroma cacao beans), and in chocolate.
Anandamide receptors have been shown to be involved in the management of short term memory. Studies are under way to explore what role anandamide plays in human behavior, such as eating and sleep patterns, and the part it plays in pain relief.
Anandamide is also important for implantation of the early stage embryo in its blastocyst stadium into the uterus. Therefore cannabinoids like Δ9-THC might interfere with the earliest stages of human pregnancy.
- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
Nature Medicine 10, 19 - 20 (2004) THC: moderation during implantation
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