Endocannabinoids May Be Elevated in Women With Fibromyalgia

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Women with fibromyalgia were found to have elevated levels of endocannabinoidome lipid mediators.

Women with fibromyalgia were found to have elevated levels of endocannabinoidome lipid mediators, suggesting that these compounds may play a role in the pathophysiology of the disease, according to results published in the Journal of Pain.

The concentration of the endocannabinoids arachidonoylethanolamide, 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), oleoylethanolamide (OEA), palmitoylethanolamide, and stearoylethanolamide (SEA) were measured in women with fibromyalgia (n=104) and healthy controls (n=116). Participants were asked to rate their pain, anxiety, depression, and current health status. Multivariate data analysis and bivariate statistics were used to determine the relationships between lipid concentrations and clinical assessments.

Participants with fibromyalgia were found to have significantly higher concentrations of OEA, palmitoylethanolamide, SEA, and 2-AG compared with healthy controls, and this significance remained for OEA and SEA after controlling for body mass index (BMI) and age. A positive correlation was established between 2-AG and fibromyalgia duration as well as BMI, and a negative correlation was found between 2-AG and pain, anxiety, depression, and health status. In participants with fibromyalgia, arachidonoylethanolamide had a positive correlation with depression ratings.

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“Increased systemic levels of [the lipid mediators N-acylethanolamines] and 2-AG in patients might be signs of ongoing low-grade inflammation in [fibromyalgia]. Although the investigated lipids are significantly altered in [fibromyalgia], their biological roles are uncertain with respect to the clinical manifestations of [fibromyalgia]. Thus, plasma lipids alone are not good biomarkers for [fibromyalgia],” the researchers wrote.

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Stensson N, Ghafouri N, Ernberg M, et al. The relationship of endocannabinoidome lipid mediators with pain and psychological stress in women with fibromyalgia – a case control study [published online June 6, 2018]. J Pain. doi:10.1016/j.jpain.2018.05.008