Renal cyst development is a characteristic feature of the most common hereditary condition known as autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD). Interstitial inflammation development is a key pathogenic aspect of ADPKD. The kidney has the endocannabinoid (EC) system, which has lately come to light as a significant participant in inflammation and the pathophysiology of progressive renal disease.

Data on ECs were gathered from a well-characterized cohort of 102 ADPKD patients using a validated mass spectrometry test (at baseline, after 2- and 4- years on standard vs. strict blood-pressure management), and compared to 100 healthy volunteers.

In ADPKD patients, researchers found increased levels of interleukins-6 and -1b, as well as lower levels of anandamide (AEA), 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), and their congeners, compared to healthy persons. Baseline AEA concentration was shown to be adversely related to the development of ADPKD as defined by the yearly percent change in height-corrected total kidney volume and favorably related to the yearly change in renal function (as determined by estimated glomerular filtration rate, ΔeGFR). The AEA analog palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) was similarly linked to an increase in eGFR over time.

The findings of the study showed that ADPKD patients have lower levels of ECs than healthy people and that it may be beneficial and a promising therapeutic target to restore the renal EC system to normalcy by increasing levels of AEA, PEA, and 2-AG, either through an increase in their synthesis or a decrease in their degradation.