The role of endocannabinoids in pregnancy

Authors: Laštůvka Zdeněk 1;  Suchopár Josef 2;  Mašková Simona 1;  Alblová Miroslava 1;  Pařízek Antonín 1
Authors‘ workplace: Gynekologicko-porodnická klinika 1. LF UK a VFN v Praze 1;  DrugAgency, a. s., Praha 2
Published in: Ceska Gynekol 2021; 86(5): 349-354
Category: Review article
doi: 10.48095/cccg2021349


Objective: In this paper, we summarize the role of the endocannabinoid system in relation to pregnancy and childbirth and its potential for dia­gnosis of preterm birth. Methods: Review of articles in peer-reviewed journals using the PubMed database. Results: Endocannabinoid system plays a significant role in embryo development, transport and implantation as well as in placentation. It consists of numerous endogenous ligands; however, in relation to pregnancy there are mainly two studied representatives: anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol. There is increasing evidence, in addition to early pregnancy events, that anandamide plays a regulatory role in pregnancy maintenance and the timing of labour. The activity of anandamide depends on its metabolic pathway and the enzymatic activity that ensures its conversion. Ultimately, changes in anandamide concentration lead to increased production of prostaglandins or prostamides, with inverse effects on pregnancy. The abuse of exogenous cannabinoids in pregnancy has substantial impact on the unborn child in many ways and may result in detrimental effects including preterm birth. Conclusion: Measuring anandamide concentration and the prostaglandin to prostamide ratio could be a useful tool in assessing the risk of preterm birth.


pregnancy – endocannabinoid system – labour


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Paediatric gynaecology Gynaecology and obstetrics Reproduction medicine

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