PI Steffens

Lipid signaling in cardiovascular disease

The endocannabinoid system has recently evolved as an endogenous lipid signaling system that is activated in a multitude of disorders, including atherosclerosis. This system comprises at least two distinct membrane receptors, CB1 and CB2, their endogenous ligands (named endocannabinoids) as well as enzymes for ligand biosynthesis and inactivation. Tissue and circulating levels of endocannabinoids and fatty acid amide analogues are dysregulated in atherosclerosis and its related cardiovascular risk factors, obesity, dyslipidemia, diabetes and endothelial dysfunction. However, the pathophysiological effect of this dysregulated tone in cardiovascular disease is not well understood. Our group aims to clarify the precise pathophysiological relevance of its receptors and ligands in cardiovascular disease.


Current projects in the lab

Endocannabinoids and related N-acylethanolamines in the pathophysiology of atherosclerosis

Link between endocannabinoid levels and leukocyte recruitment in acute and chronic inflammation

Peripheral functions of other neuromodulators in acute and chronic inflammation

Molecular pathways of cannabinoid receptor signaling


Key publications

  • Lenglet, S., Thomas, A., Soehnlein, O., Montecucco, F., Burger, F., Pelli, G., Galan, K., Cravatt, B., Staub, C., and Steffens, S. (2013). Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase Deficiency Enhances Intraplaque Neutrophil Recruitment in Atherosclerotic Mice. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 33, 215-223.
  • Molica, F., Burger, F., Thomas, A., Staub, C., Tailleux, A., Staels, B., Pelli, G., Zimmer, A., Cravatt, B., Matter, C.M., Pacher, P., Steffens, S. (2013). Endogenous cannabinoid receptor CB1 activation promotes vascular smooth-muscle cell proliferation and neointima formation. Journal of lipid research 54, 1360-1368.
  • Molica, F., Matter, C.M., Burger, F., Pelli, G., Lenglet, S., Zimmer, A., Pacher, P., and Steffens, S. (2012). Cannabinoid receptor CB2 protects against balloon-induced neointima formation. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 302, H1064-1074.
  • Montecucco, F., Di Marzo, V., da Silva, R.F., Vuilleumier, N., Capettini, L., Lenglet, S., Pagano, S., Piscitelli, F., Quintao, S., Bertolotto, M., Pelli, G., Galan, K., Pilet, L., Kuzmanovic, K., Burger, F., Pane, B., Spinella, G., Braunersreuther, V., Gayet-Ageron, A., Pende, A., Viviani, G. L., Palombo, D., Dallegri, F., Roux-Lombard, P., Santos, R. A., Stergiopulos, N., Steffens, S.,* Mach, F.* (2011). The activation of the cannabinoid receptor type 2 reduces neutrophilic protease-mediated vulnerability in atherosclerotic plaques. Eur Heart J 33, 846-856. (*Equal last authors)
  • Quercioli, A., Pataky, Z., Vincenti, G., Makoundou, V., Di Marzo, V., Montecucco, F., Carballo, S., Thomas, A., Staub, C., Steffens, S., Seimbille, Y., Golay, A., Ratib, O., Harsch, E., Mach, F., Schindler, T. H. (2011). Elevated endocannabinoid plasma levels are associated with coronary circulatory dysfunction in obesity. Eur Heart J 32, 1369-1378.
  • Montecucco, F., Matias, I., Lenglet, S., Petrosino, S., Burger, F., Pelli, G., Braunersreuther, V., Mach, F., Steffens, S.,* and Di Marzo, V.* (2009). Regulation and possible role of endocannabinoids and related mediators in hypercholesterolemic mice with atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis 205, 433-441. (*Equal last authors)
  • Montecucco, F., Lenglet, S., Braunersreuther, V., Burger, F., Pelli, G., Bertolotto, M., Mach, F., and Steffens, S. (2009). CB2 cannabinoid receptor activation is cardioprotective in a mouse model of ischemia/reperfusion. Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology 46, 612-620.
  • Steffens, S., Veillard, N.R., Arnaud, C., Pelli, G., Burger, F., Staub, C., Karsak, M., Zimmer, A., Frossard, J.L., and Mach, F. (2005). Low dose oral cannabinoid therapy reduces progression of atherosclerosis in mice. Nature 434, 782-786.


Principal investigator

Univ.-Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Sabine Steffens




Direktor: Prof. Dr. med. Christian Weber

Institut für Prophylaxe und Epidemiologie der Kreislaufkrankheiten (IPEK)


Pettenkoferstraße 8a & 9

80336 München


Tel.: 089-4400-54351

Fax: 089-4400-54352

Mail: Kreislaufinstitut@med.uni-muenchen.de