Prof. Paola Vitaglione, University of Naples Frederico II, Italy
Talk title: Endocannabinoid system and aging: is there a room for healthy food design?
Paola Vitaglione is Associate Professor of Physiology at the Department of Agricultural sciences of University of Naples “Federico II” where she coordinates the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree FIPDes (http://www.fipdes.eu) and she teaches Food science and Nutrition applied to healthy food design.
Her main research line deals with the development of new and sustainable functional ingredients/foods/diets and the validation of their efficacy through clinical trials. The research activity produced 170 articles in peer-reviewed international scientific journals (h-index 35).
She is Associate Editor of the Journal of Science of Food and Agriculture and Journal of Functional Foods.
Endocannabinoid system and aging: is there a room for healthy food design?
University of Naples “Federico II”, Department of Agricultural sciences, Portici, Italy
The endocannabinoid system consists of endocannabinoids (ECs), their receptors and enzymes involved in their synthesis and degradation. The two best-characterized endocannabinoids are N-arachidonoylethanolamide (anandamide) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol. They mainly bind G-protein-coupled cannabinoid receptors CB1 (type 1) and CB2 (type 2). Several structural congeners of ECs, mainly N-acylethanolamines (NAEs) such as oleoylethanolamine, linoleyethanolamine and palmitoyletahanolamine but also glycerol-esters of long chain fatty acids, are found in the body and show partly overlapping mechanisms of action, tissue distribution as well as pathways of formation and breakdown. These “endocannabinoid-like” molecules target G-protein coupled receptor 119 (GPR119), peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARα and PPARγ), and the transient receptor potential (TRP) cation channels (TRPV1, TRPM5 and TRPC5). Through their receptors, which are located in the central nervous system but also in the enteric nervous system (CB1, CB2, TRPV1, PPAR-α), intestinal mucosa (TRP, GPR119, PPARs), stomach, small intestine and colon mucosa (GPR119), liver (PPARs, CB1, GPR119) and adipose tissue (CB1, PPARα), NAEs and ECs are involved in many physiological processes. Mounting evidence shows that in different way and with a certain specialization, ECs and NAEs can modulate physiological mechanisms underpinning appetite, food intake, macronutrient metabolism, pain sensation, blood pressure, mood, cognition and immunity.
This knowledge has been largely utilised in pharmacology and medicine to develop many drugs targeting the fine and specific molecular pathways orchestrating ECs activity. Contrarily, the contribution of dietary NAEs and ECs to master biological functions of these molecules has been completely ignored. Recent findings from our research group dealing with the food content of NAEs and ECs will be presented and discussed in light of the potential activity through the receptors lining on the gastro-intestinal mucosa as well as the impact on reward mechanisms, obesity and inflammation in humans. Future perspective and concept to design new foods for aging better will be highlighted.
Keywords: obesity; inflammation; gut; functional food
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