Modulation of the Endocannabinoids N-Arachidonoylethanolamine (AEA) and 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) on Executive Functions in Humans

Ana B. Fagundo, Rafael de la Torre, Susana Jiménez-Murcia, Zaida Agüera, Antoni Pastor, Felipe F. Casanueva, Roser Granero, Rosa Baños, Cristina Botella, Amparol de Pino-Gutierrez, Jose M. Fernández-Real, Jose C. Fernández-García, Gema Frühbeck, Javier Gómez-Ambrosi, José M. Menchón, Inés Moragrega, Roser Rodríguez, Salomé Tárrega, Francisco J. Tinahones, Fernando Fernández-Aranda

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14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Animal studies point to an implication of the endocannabinoid system on executive functions. In humans, several studies have suggested an association between acute or chronic use of exogenous cannabinoids (Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol) and executive impairments. However, to date, no published reports establish the relationship between endocannabinoids, as biomarkers of the cannabinoid neurotransmission system, and executive functioning in humans. The aim of the present study was to explore the association between circulating levels of plasma endocannabinoids N-arachidonoylethanolamine (AEA) and 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) and executive functions (decision making, response inhibition and cognitive flexibility) in healthy subjects. One hundred and fifty seven subjects were included and assessed with the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test; Stroop Color and Word Test; and Iowa Gambling Task. All participants were female, aged between 18 and 60 years and spoke Spanish as their first language. Results showed a negative correlation between 2-AG and cognitive flexibility performance (r = -.37; p<.05). A positive correlation was found between AEA concentrations and both cognitive flexibility (r =. 59; p<.05) and decision making performance (r =. 23; P<.05). There was no significant correlation between either 2-AG (r = -.17) or AEA (r = -.08) concentrations and inhibition response. These results show, in humans, a relevant modulation of the endocannabinoid system on prefrontal-dependent cognitive functioning. The present study might have significant implications for the underlying executive alterations described in some psychiatric disorders currently associated with endocannabinoids deregulation (namely drug abuse/dependence, depression, obesity and eating disorders). Understanding the neurobiology of their dysexecutive profile might certainly contribute to the development of new treatments and pharmacological approaches. © 2013 Fagundo et al.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere66387
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jun 2013

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