Hepatic targeting of the centrally active cannabinoid 1 receptor (CB1R) blocker rimonabant via PLGA nanoparticles for treating fatty liver disease and diabetes

Shira Hirsch, Liad Hinden, Meital Ben David Naim, Saja Baraghithy, Anna Permyakova, Shahar Azar, Taher Nasser, Emma Portnoy, Majd Agbaria, Alina Nemirovski, Gershon Golomb, Joseph Tam*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Over-activation of the endocannabinoid/CB1R system is a hallmark feature of obesity and its related comorbidities, most notably type 2 diabetes (T2D), and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Although the use of drugs that widely block the CB1R was found to be highly effective in treating all metabolic abnormalities associated with obesity, they are no longer considered a valid therapeutic option due to their adverse neuropsychiatric side effects. Here, we describe a novel nanotechnology-based drug delivery system for repurposing the abandoned first-in-class global CB1R antagonist, rimonabant, by encapsulating it in polymeric nanoparticles (NPs) for effective hepatic targeting of CB1Rs, enabling effective treatment of NAFLD and T2D. Rimonabant-encapsulated NPs (Rimo-NPs) were mainly distributed in the liver, spleen, and kidney, and only negligible marginal levels of rimonabant were found in the brain of mice treated by iv/ip administration. In contrast to freely administered rimonabant treatment, no CNS-mediated behavioral activities were detected in animals treated with Rimo-NPs. Chronic treatment of diet-induced obese mice with Rimo-NPs resulted in reduced hepatic steatosis and liver injury as well as enhanced insulin sensitivity, which were associated with enhanced cellular uptake of the formulation into hepatocytes. Collectively, we successfully developed a method of encapsulating the centrally acting CB1R blocker in NPs with desired physicochemical properties. This novel drug delivery system allows hepatic targeting of rimonabant to restore the metabolic advantages of blocking CB1R in peripheral tissues, especially in the liver, without the negative CB1R-mediated neuropsychiatric side effects.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)254-269
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Controlled Release
StatePublished - Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors


  • CB1 receptor blocker
  • Drug delivery system
  • Hepatic steatosis
  • Insulin resistance
  • Nanomedicine
  • Obesity
  • Polymeric nanoparticles


Dive into the research topics of 'Hepatic targeting of the centrally active cannabinoid 1 receptor (CB1R) blocker rimonabant via PLGA nanoparticles for treating fatty liver disease and diabetes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this