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The Endocannabinoid System and Its Role in Eczematous Dermatoses

Trusler, Alexandra R. BS; Clark, Ashley K. BS; Sivamani, Raja K. MD, MS, CAT; Shi, Vivian Y. MD

doi: 10.1097/DER.0000000000000257

The skin serves as the foremost barrier between the internal body and the external world, providing crucial protection against pathogens and chemical, mechanical, and ultraviolet damages. The skin is a central player in the intricate network of immune, neurologic, and endocrine systems. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) includes an extensive network of bioactive lipid mediators and their receptors, functions to modulate appetite, pain, mood, and memory, and has recently been implicated in skin homeostasis. Disruption of ECS homeostasis is implicated in the pathogenesis of several prevalent skin conditions. In this review, we highlight the role of endocannabinoids in maintaining skin health and homeostasis and discuss evidence on the role of ECS in several eczematous dermatoses including atopic dermatitis, asteatotic eczema, irritant contact dermatitis, allergic contact dermatitis, and chronic pruritus. The compilation of evidence may spark directions for future investigations on how the ECS may be a therapeutic target for dermatologic conditions.

From the *Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA; †School of Medicine, ‡Department of Dermatology, University of California, Davis; and §Dermatology Division, Department of Medicine, University of Arizona, Tucson.

Address reprint requests to Vivian Y. Shi, MD, Arizona Cancer Center, 1515N Campbell Ave, PO Box 245024, Bldg #222, Levy Bldg, 1906E, Tucson, AZ 85724-5024. E-mail:

R.K.S. has served as a consultant for Valent Pharmaceutical North America. The other authors have no funding and conflicts of interest to declare.

© 2017 American Contact Dermatitis Society
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