Endocannabinoid Research

The body’s own endocannabinoid system is not yet understood completely in its pysiological and pathophysiological meaning. However, it is possible to derive its importance concerning disease processes of schizophrenic psychoses from our experimental studies in humans.

Therefore we have investigated the role of endogenous cannabinoids (eCBs) in psychiatric disorders in recent years. It became apparent that the concentrations of eCBs anandamide are significantly increased in the cerebrospinal fluid of patients with schizophrenic psychoses compared with healthy controls. Anandamide thus represents a natural counter-regulation against other neurotransmitter systems that are particularly activated in diseases of that kind.

This enables us to gain insight in the underlying neurobiological processes of endocannabinoid functions in psychiatric disorders. Moreover it renders possible to develop therapeutic strategies that target the endocannabinoid system.

This research was supported by the Stanley Medical Research Institute of the Theodore and Vada Stanley Foundation, USA (Grant IDs 01-315 and 03-NV-003 to FML), the Cologne Fortune Program, and the European Commission (GxE Experimental EU FP7 HEALTH-F2-2010-241909).


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J. Ceccarini, M. De Hert, R. Van Winkel, J. Peuskens, G. Bormans, L. Kranaster, D. Koethe, F. M. Leweke, K. Van Laere: Increased ventral striatal CB1 receptor binding is related to negative symptoms in schizophrenia and is modulated by antipsychotic drug therapy. Neuroimage (2013) 79:304-312.

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D. Koethe*, A. Giuffrida*, D. Schreiber, M. Hellmich, F. Schultze-Lutter, S. Ruhrmann, J. Klosterkötter, D. Piomelli, F. M. Leweke: Anandamide elevation in CSF of prodromal states of schizophrenia. Brit J Psychiat, (2009) 194:371-372.

D. Koethe*, D. Schreiber*, A. Giuffrida*, C. Mauss, B. Heydenreich, R. Graf, J. Klosterkötter, D. Piomelli, F. M. Leweke: Sleep deprivation increases cerebrospinal levels of oleoylethanolamide, an endogenous PPAR-a agonist. J Neural Transm (2009) 116:301-305.

D. Schreiber, S. Harlfinger, B. M. Nolden, C. W. Gerth, U. Jaehde, E. Schömig, J. Klosterkötter, A. Giuffrida, G. Astarita, D. Piomelli, F. M. Leweke: Determination of anandamide and other fatty acylethanolamides in human serum by electrospray tandem mass spectrometry. Anal Biochem (2007) 361:162–168.

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