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Vitam Horm


Endocannabinoids and aging-Inflammation, neuroplasticity, mood and pain.


Park Y, Watkins BA
Vitam Horm. 2021; 115:129-172.
PMID: 33706946.


Aging is associated with changes in hormones, slowing of metabolism, diminished physiological processes, chronic inflammation and high exposure to oxidative stress factors, generally described as the biological cost of living. Lifestyle interventions of diet and exercise can improve the quality of life during aging and lower diet-related chronic disease. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) has important effects on systemic metabolism and physiological systems, including the central and peripheral nervous systems. Exercise can reduce the loss of muscle mass and improve strength, and increase the levels of endocannabinoids (eCB) in brain and blood. Although the ECS exerts controls on multiple systems throughout life it affords benefits to natural aging. The eCB are synthesized from polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and the primary ones are produced from arachidonic acid (n-6 PUFA) and others from the n-3 PUFA, namely eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids. The eCB ligands bind to their receptors, CB1 and CB2, with effects on appetite stimulation, metabolism, immune functions, and brain physiology and neuroplasticity. Dietary families of PUFA are a primary factor that can influence the types and levels of eCB and as a consequence, the downstream actions when the ligands bind to their receptors. Furthermore, the association of eCB with the synthesis of oxylipins (OxL) is a connection between the physiological actions of eCB and the lipid derived immunological OxL mediators of inflammation. OxL are ubiquitous and influence neuroinflammation and inflammatory processes. The emerging actions of eCB on neuroplasticity, well-being and pain are important to aging. Herein, we present information about the ECS and its components, how exercise and diet affects specific eCB, their role in neuroplasticity, neuroinflammation, pain, mood, and relationship to OxL. Poor nutrition status and low nutrient intakes observed with many elderly are reasons to examine the role of dietary PUFA actions on the ECS to improve health.