Endocannabinoid receptor blockade reduces alanine aminotransferase in polycystic ovary syndrome independent of weight loss

Alison J. Dawson, Eric S. Kilpatrick, Anne Marie Coady, Abeer Elshewehy, Youssra Dakroury, Lina Ahmed, Stephen Atkin, Thozhukat Sathyapalan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Evidence suggests that endocannabinoid system activation through the cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) is associated with enhanced liver injury, and CB1 antagonism may be beneficial. The aim of this study was to determine the impact of rimonabant (CB1 antagonist) on alanine aminotransferase (ALT), a hepatocellular injury marker, and a hepatic inflammatory cytokine profile. Methods: Post hoc review of 2 studies involving 50 obese women with PCOS and well matched for weight, randomised to weight reducing therapy; rimonabant (20 mg od) or orlistat (120 mg tds), or to insulin sensitising therapy metformin, (500 mg tds), or pioglitazone (45 mg od). No subject had non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Results: Treatment with rimonabant for 12 weeks reduced both ALT and weight (p < 0.01), and there was a negative correlation between Δ ALT and Δ HOMA-IR (p < 0.001), but not between Δ ALT and Δ weight. There was a significant reduction of weight with orlistat (p < 0.01); however, orlistat, metformin and pioglitazone had no effect on ALT. The free androgen index fell in all groups (p < 0.05). The inflammatory marker hs-CRP was reduced by pioglitazone (p < 0.001) alone and did not correlate with changes in ALT. The inflammatory cytokine profile for IL-1β, IL-6, IL-7, IL-10, IL12, TNF-α, MCP-1 and INF-γ did not differ between groups. None of the interventions had an effect on biological variability of ALT. Conclusion: Rimonabant through CB1 receptor blockade decreased serum ALT that was independent of weight loss and hepatic inflammatory markers in obese women with PCOS without NAFLD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number41
JournalBMC Endocrine Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jul 2017



  • Alt
  • Nafld
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Rimonabant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism

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