The ECS (endocannabinoid system) plays an important role in the onset of obesity and metabolic disorders, implicating central and peripheral mechanisms predominantly via CB1 (cannabinoid type 1) receptors. CB1 receptor antagonist/inverse agonist treatment improves cardiometabolic risk factors and insulin resistance. However, the relative contribution of peripheral organs to the net beneficial metabolic effects remains unclear. In the present study, we have identified the presence of the endocannabinoid signalling machinery in skeletal muscle and also investigated the impact of an HFD (high-fat diet) on lipid-metabolism-related genes and endocannabinoid-related proteins. Finally, we tested whether administration of the CB1 inverse agonist AM251 restored the alterations induced by the HFD. Rats were fed on either an STD (standard/low-fat diet) or an HFD for 10 weeks and then treated with AM251 (3 mg/kg of body weight per day) for 14 days. The accumulated caloric intake was progressively higher in rats fed on the HFD than the STD, resulting in a divergence in body weight gain. AM251 treatment reduced accumulated food/caloric intake and body weight gain, being more marked in rats fed on the HFD. CB2 (cannabinoid type 2) receptor and PPARα (peroxisome-proliferator-activated receptor α) gene expression was decreased in HFD-fed rats, whereas MAGL (monoglyceride lipase) gene expression was up-regulated. These data suggest an altered endocannabinoid signalling as a result of the HFD. AM251 treatment reduced CB2 receptor, PPARγ and AdipoR1 (adiponectin receptor 1) gene expression in STD-fed rats, but only partially normalized the CB2 receptor in HFD-fed rats. Protein levels corroborated gene expression results, but also showed a decrease in DAGL (diacylglycerol) β and DAGLα after AM251 treatment in STD- and HFD-fed rats respectively. In conclusion, the results of the present study indicate a diet-sensitive ECS in skeletal muscle, suggesting that blockade of CB1 receptors could work towards restoration of the metabolic adaption imposed by diet.

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