International forskning

Expanding Research on Cannabis-Based Medicines for Liver Steatosis: A Low-Risk High-Reward Way Out of the Present Deadlock?

Tangui Barré 1, Vincenzo Di Marzo 2 3 4, Fabienne Marcellin 1, Patrizia Burra 5, Patrizia Carrieri 1

  • 1Aix Marseille Univ, Inserm, IRD, SESSTIM, Sciences Economiques & Sociales de la Santé & Traitement de l’Information Médicale, ISSPAM, Marseille, France.
  • 2Istituto di Chimica Biomolecolare, CNR, Pozzuoli, Italy.
  • 3Endocannabinoid Research Group, Pozzuoli, Italy.
  • 4Canada Excellence Research Chair on the Microbiome-Endocannabinoidome Axis in Metabolic Health, CRIUCPQ and INAF-Centre NUTRISS, Faculties of Medicine and Agriculture and Food Sciences, Université Laval, Québec, Canada.
  • 5Department of Surgery, Oncology and Gastroenterology, Padua University Hospital, Padua Italy.


Obesity and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) constitute global and growing epidemics that result in therapeutic dead ends. There is an urgent need for new and accessible treatments to improve and widen both preventive and curative approaches against NAFLD. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is recognized as a complex signaling apparatus closely related to metabolic disorders and is a key target for treating NAFLD. Despite a lack of conclusive clinical trials, observational and pre-clinical studies highlight putative benefits of phytocannabinoids on liver steatosis through multiple pathways. Owing to both its safety profile and its diversity of active compounds acting primarily (although not exclusively) on the ECS-and its expanded version, the endocannabinoidome, the Cannabis plant should be considered a major prospect in the treatment of NAFLD. However, seizing this opportunity, and intensifying clinical research in this direction, will require overcoming both scientific and nonscientific barriers.

Keywords: NAFLD; NASH; cannabidiol; cannabinoids; cannabis; diabetes; insulin resistance; liver steatosis; metabolic disorders.