Elevated endogenous cannabinoids in schizophrenia

F. M. Leweke, A. Giuffrida, U. Wurster, H. M. Emrich, D. Piomelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

389 Scopus citations


Evidence suggests that cannabinoid receptors, the pharmacological target of cannabis-derived drugs, and their accompanying system of endogenous activators may be dysfunctional in schizophrenia. To test this hypothesis, we examined whether endogenous cannabinoid concentrations in cerebrospinal fluid of schizophrenic patients are altered compared to non-schizophrenic controls. Endogenous cannabinoids were purified from cerebrospinal fluid of 10 patients with schizophrenia and 11 non-schizophrenic controls by high-performance liquid chromatography, and quantified by isotope dilution gas- chromatography/mass-spectrometry. Cerebrospinal concentrations of two endogenous cannabinoids (anandamide and palmitylethanolamide) were significantly higher in schizophrenic patients than non-schizophrenic controls (p < 0.05). By contrast, levels of 2-arachidonylglycerol, another endogenous cannabinoid lipid, were below detection in both groups. The findings did not seem attributable to gender, age or medication. Elevated anandamide and palmitylethanolamide levels in cerebrospinal fluid of schizophrenic patients may reflect an imbalance in endogenous cannabinoid signaling, which may contribute to the pathogenesis of schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1665-1669
Number of pages5
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jun 3 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • 2-arachidonylglycerol
  • Anandamide
  • Cannabinoid receptors
  • Cerebrospinal fluid
  • Gas chromatography/mass spectrometry
  • Palmitylethanolamide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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