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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2016, Article ID 2426398, 13 pages
Review Article

Lipidomic Analysis of Endocannabinoid Signaling: Targeted Metabolite Identification and Quantification

1Department of Biological Sciences, Center for Plant Lipid Research, University of North Texas, Denton, TX 76203, USA
2Brookhaven National Laboratory, 50 Bell Avenue, Building 463, P.O. Box 5000, Upton, NY 11973-5000, USA

Received 1 July 2015; Accepted 9 September 2015

Academic Editor: Jean-François Bouchard

Copyright © 2016 Jantana Keereetaweep and Kent D. Chapman. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The endocannabinoids N-arachidonoylethanolamide (or anandamide, AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) belong to the larger groups of N-acylethanolamines (NAEs) and monoacylglycerol (MAG) lipid classes, respectively. They are biologically active lipid molecules that activate G-protein-coupled cannabinoid receptors found in various organisms. After AEA and 2-AG were discovered in the 1990s, they have been extensively documented to have a broad range of physiological functions. Along with AEA, several NAEs, for example, N-palmitoylethanolamine (PEA), N-stearoylethanolamine (SEA), and N-oleoylethanolamine (OEA) are also present in tissues, usually at much larger concentrations than AEA. Any perturbation that involves the endocannabinoid pathway may subsequently alter basal level or metabolism of these lipid mediators. Further, the altered levels of these molecules often reflect pathological conditions associated with tissue damage. Robust and sensitive methodologies to analyze these lipid mediators are essential to understanding how they act as endocannabinoids. The recent advances in mass spectrometry allow researchers to develop lipidomics approaches and several methodologies have been proposed to quantify endocannabinoids in various biological systems.