Fatty acid amide hydrolase

"FAAH" redirects here. For other uses, see FAAH (disambiguation).
Aliases FAAH, fatty acid amide hydrolase, FAAH-1, PSAB
External IDs MGI: 109609 HomoloGene: 68184 GeneCards: FAAH
Targeted by Drug
pf-04457845, urb-597[1]
Species Human Mouse









RefSeq (mRNA)



RefSeq (protein)



Location (UCSC) Chr 1: 46.39 – 46.41 Mb Chr 4: 115.97 – 116.02 Mb
PubMed search [2] [3]
View/Edit HumanView/Edit Mouse

Fatty acid amide hydrolase or FAAH (EC, oleamide hydrolase, anandamide amidohydrolase) is a member of the serine hydrolase family of enzymes. It was first shown to break down anandamide in 1993.[4] In humans, it is encoded by the gene FAAH.[5][6][7]


FAAH is an integral membrane hydrolase with a single N-terminal transmembrane domain. In vitro, FAAH has esterase and amidase activity.[8] In vivo, FAAH is the principal catabolic enzyme for a class of bioactive lipids called the fatty acid amides (FAAs). Members of the FAAs include:

FAAH knockout mice display highly elevated (>15-fold) levels of N-acylethanolamines and N-acyltaurines in various tissues. Because of their significantly elevated anandamide levels, FAAH KOs have an analgesic phenotype, showing reduced pain sensation in the hot plate test, the formalin test, and the tail flick test.[13] Finally, because of their impaired ability to degrade anandamide, FAAH KOs also display supersensitivity to exogenous anandamide, a cannabinoid receptor (CB) agonist.[9]

Due to the ability of FAAH to regulate nociception, it is currently viewed as an attractive drug target for the treatment of pain.[14][15][16]

A mutation in FAAH was initially provisionally linked to drug abuse and dependence but this was not borne out in subsequent studies.[17]

Studies in cells and animals and genetic studies in humans have shown that inhibiting FAAH may be a useful strategy to treat anxiety disorders.[17][18][19]

Inhibitors and inactivators

Based on the hydrolytic mechanism of fatty acid amide hydrolase, a large number of irreversible and reversible inhibitors of this enzyme have been developed.[20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27]

Some of the more significant compounds are listed below;

  • AM374, palmitylsulfonyl fluoride, one of the first FAAH inhibitors developed for in vitro use, but too reactive for research in vivo
  • ARN2508, derivative of flurbiprofen, dual FAAH / COX inhibitor
  • BIA 10-2474 (Bial-Portela & Ca. SA, Portugal) has been linked to severe adverse events affecting 5 patients in a drug trial in Rennes, France, and at least one death, in January 2016.[28] Many other pharmaceutical companies have previously taken other FAAH inhibitors into clinical trials without reporting such adverse events.
  • BMS-469908[29]
  • CAY-10402
  • JNJ-245
  • JNJ-1661010[30]
  • JNJ-28833155
  • JNJ-40413269
  • JNJ-42119779
  • JNJ-42165279 in clinical trials against social anxiety and depression,[31] trials suspended as a precautionary measure following serious adverse event with BIA 10-2474[32]
  • LY-2183240 [33]
  • Cannabidiol[34]
  • MK-3168
  • MK-4409
  • MM-433593
  • OL-92
  • OL-135
  • PF-622
  • PF-750 [35]
  • PF-3845
  • PF-04457845 "exquisitely selective" for FAAH over other serine hydrolases, but failed in clinical trials against osteoarthritis[36]
  • PF-04862853
  • RN-450
  • SA-47
  • SA-73
  • SSR-411298 well tolerated in clinical trials but insufficient efficacy against depression, subsequently trialled against cancer pain as an adjunctive treatment.[37][38]
  • ST-4068, reversible inhibitor of FAAH
  • TK-25
  • URB524
  • URB597 (KDS-4103, Kadmus Pharmaceuticals), is an irreversible inactivator with a carbamate-based mechanism, and appears in one report as a somewhat selective, though it also inactivates other serine hydrolases (e.g., carboxylesterases) in peripheral tissues.[35]
  • URB694
  • URB937
  • VER-156084[39]
  • V-158866 in clinical trials for neuropathic pain following spinal injury,[40] and spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis. Structure not revealed though Vernalis holds several patents in the area.[41][42]


The enzyme is typically assayed making use of a radiolabelled anandamide substrate, which generates free labelled ethanolamine, although alternative LC-MS methods have also been described.[43][44]


The first crystal structure of FAAH was published in 2002 (PDB code 1MT5).[7] Structures of FAAH with drug-like ligands were first reported in 2008, and include non-covalent inhibitor complexes and covalent adducts.[45]

See also


  1. "Drugs that physically interact with Fatty-acid amide hydrolase 1 view/edit references on wikidata".
  2. "Human PubMed Reference:".
  3. "Mouse PubMed Reference:".
  4. Deutsch DG, Chin SA (September 1993). "Enzymatic synthesis and degradation of anandamide, a cannabinoid receptor agonist". Biochemical Pharmacology. 46 (5): 791–6. doi:10.1016/0006-2952(93)90486-G. PMID 8373432.
  5. Cravatt BF, Giang DK, Mayfield SP, Boger DL, Lerner RA, Gilula NB (November 1996). "Molecular characterization of an enzyme that degrades neuromodulatory fatty-acid amides". Nature. 384 (6604): 83–7. doi:10.1038/384083a0. PMID 8900284.
  6. Giang DK, Cravatt BF (March 1997). "Molecular characterization of human and mouse fatty acid amide hydrolases". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 94 (6): 2238–42. doi:10.1073/pnas.94.6.2238. PMC 20071Freely accessible. PMID 9122178.
  7. 1 2 PDB: 1MT5; Bracey MH, Hanson MA, Masuda KR, Stevens RC, Cravatt BF (November 2002). "Structural adaptations in a membrane enzyme that terminates endocannabinoid signaling". Science. 298 (5599): 1793–6. doi:10.1126/science.1076535. PMID 12459591.
  8. Patricelli MP, Cravatt BF (October 1999). "Fatty acid amide hydrolase competitively degrades bioactive amides and esters through a nonconventional catalytic mechanism". Biochemistry. 38 (43): 14125–30. doi:10.1021/bi991876p. PMID 10571985.
  9. 1 2 Cravatt BF, Demarest K, Patricelli MP, Bracey MH, Giang DK, Martin BR, Lichtman AH (July 2001). "Supersensitivity to anandamide and enhanced endogenous cannabinoid signaling in mice lacking fatty acid amide hydrolase". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 98 (16): 9371–6. doi:10.1073/pnas.161191698. PMC 55427Freely accessible. PMID 11470906.
  10. Saghatelian A, Trauger SA, Want EJ, Hawkins EG, Siuzdak G, Cravatt BF (November 2004). "Assignment of endogenous substrates to enzymes by global metabolite profiling". Biochemistry. 43 (45): 14332–9. doi:10.1021/bi0480335. PMID 15533037.
  11. Cravatt BF, Prospero-Garcia O, Siuzdak G, Gilula NB, Henriksen SJ, Boger DL, Lerner RA (June 1995). "Chemical characterization of a family of brain lipids that induce sleep". Science. 268 (5216): 1506–9. doi:10.1126/science.7770779. PMID 7770779.
  12. Saghatelian A, McKinney MK, Bandell M, Patapoutian A, Cravatt BF (August 2006). "A FAAH-regulated class of N-acyl taurines that activates TRP ion channels". Biochemistry. 45 (30): 9007–15. doi:10.1021/bi0608008. PMID 16866345.
  13. Cravatt BF, Lichtman AH (October 2004). "The endogenous cannabinoid system and its role in nociceptive behavior". Journal of Neurobiology. 61 (1): 149–60. doi:10.1002/neu.20080. PMID 15362158.
  14. Sałaga M, Sobczak M, Fichna J (2014). "Inhibition of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) as a novel therapeutic strategy in the treatment of pain and inflammatory diseases in the gastrointestinal tract". European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences : Official Journal of the European Federation for Pharmaceutical Sciences. 52: 173–9. doi:10.1016/j.ejps.2013.11.012. PMID 24275607.
  15. Ulugöl A (2014). "The endocannabinoid system as a potential therapeutic target for pain modulation". Balkan Medical Journal. 31 (2): 115–20. doi:10.5152/balkanmedj.2014.13103. PMC 4115931Freely accessible. PMID 25207181.
  16. Ghosh S, Kinsey SG, Liu QS, Hruba L, McMahon LR, Grim TW, et al. (2015). "Full Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase Inhibition Combined with Partial Monoacylglycerol Lipase Inhibition: Augmented and Sustained Antinociceptive Effects with Reduced Cannabimimetic Side Effects in Mice". The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. 354 (2): 111–20. doi:10.1124/jpet.115.222851. PMC 4518073Freely accessible. PMID 25998048.
  17. 1 2 Panlilio LV, Justinova Z, Goldberg SR (2013). "Inhibition of FAAH and activation of PPAR: new approaches to the treatment of cognitive dysfunction and drug addiction". Pharmacology & Therapeutics. 138 (1): 84–102. doi:10.1016/j.pharmthera.2013.01.003. PMC 3662489Freely accessible. PMID 23333350.
  18. Gunduz-Cinar O, Hill MN, McEwen BS, Holmes A (November 2013). "Amygdala FAAH and anandamide: mediating protection and recovery from stress". Trends in Pharmacological Sciences. 34 (11): 637–44. doi:10.1016/j.tips.2013.08.008sd. PMC 4169112Freely accessible. PMID 24325918.
  19. Berardi A, Schelling G, Campolongo P (September 2016). "The endocannabinoid system and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): From preclinical findings to innovative therapeutic approaches in clinical settings". Pharmacological Research. 111: 668–78. doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2016.07.024. PMID 27456243.
  20. Janero DR, Vadivel SK, Makriyannis A (April 2009). "Pharmacotherapeutic modulation of the endocannabinoid signalling system in psychiatric disorders: drug-discovery strategies". International Review of Psychiatry (Abingdon, England). 21 (2): 122–33. doi:10.1080/09540260902782778. PMID 19367506.
  21. Ahn K, Johnson DS, Cravatt BF (July 2009). "Fatty acid amide hydrolase as a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of pain and CNS disorders". Expert Opinion on Drug Discovery. 4 (7): 763–784. doi:10.1517/17460440903018857. PMC 2882713Freely accessible. PMID 20544003.
  22. Petrosino S, Di Marzo V (January 2010). "FAAH and MAGL inhibitors: therapeutic opportunities from regulating endocannabinoid levels". Current Opinion in Investigational Drugs (London, England : 2000). 11 (1): 51–62. PMID 20047159.
  23. Minkkilä A, Saario S, Nevalainen T (2010). "Discovery and development of endocannabinoid-hydrolyzing enzyme inhibitors". Current Topics in Medicinal Chemistry. 10 (8): 828–58. PMID 20370710.
  24. Khanna IK, Alexander CW (August 2011). "Fatty acid amide hydrolase inhibitors--progress and potential". CNS & Neurological Disorders Drug Targets. 10 (5): 545–58. doi:10.2174/187152711796234989. PMID 21631410.
  25. Bisogno T, Maccarrone M (May 2013). "Latest advances in the discovery of fatty acid amide hydrolase inhibitors". Expert Opinion on Drug Discovery. 8 (5): 509–22. doi:10.1517/17460441.2013.780021. PMID 23488865.
  26. Pertwee RG (February 2014). "Elevating endocannabinoid levels: pharmacological strategies and potential therapeutic applications". The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. 73 (1): 96–105. doi:10.1017/S0029665113003649. PMID 24135210.
  27. Lodola A, Castelli R, Mor M, Rivara S (2015). "Fatty acid amide hydrolase inhibitors: a patent review (2009-2014)". Expert Opinion on Therapeutic Patents. 25 (11): 1247–66. doi:10.1517/13543776.2015.1067683. PMID 26413912.
  28. Enserink M (2016). "More Details Emerge on Fateful French Drug Trial" (online). Science (January 16). Retrieved 16 January 2016.
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  30. Min X, Thibault ST, Porter AC, Gustin DJ, Carlson TJ, Xu H, Lindstrom M, Xu G, Uyeda C, Ma Z, Li Y, Kayser F, Walker NP, Wang Z (May 2011). "Discovery and molecular basis of potent noncovalent inhibitors of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH)". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 108 (18): 7379–84. doi:10.1073/pnas.1016167108. PMC 3088576Freely accessible. PMID 21502526.
  31. Keith JM, Jones WM, Tichenor M, Liu J, Seierstad M, Palmer JA, Webb M, Karbarz M, Scott BP, Wilson SJ, Luo L, Wennerholm ML, Chang L, Rizzolio M, Rynberg R, Chaplan SR, Breitenbucher JG (December 2015). "Preclinical Characterization of the FAAH Inhibitor JNJ-42165279". ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters. 6 (12): 1204–8. doi:10.1021/acsmedchemlett.5b00353. PMID 26713105.
  32. "Janssen Research & Development, LLC Voluntarily Suspends Dosing in Phase 2 Clinical Trials of Experimental Treatment for Mood Disorders". Janssen.com. 17 January 2016. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
  33. Moore SA, Nomikos GG, Dickason-Chesterfield AK, Schober DA, Schaus JM, Ying BP, Xu YC, Phebus L, Simmons RM, Li D, Iyengar S, Felder CC (December 2005). "Identification of a high-affinity binding site involved in the transport of endocannabinoids". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 102 (49): 17852–7. doi:10.1073/pnas.0507470102. PMC 1295594Freely accessible. PMID 16314570.
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  35. 1 2 Ahn K, Johnson DS, Fitzgerald LR, Liimatta M, Arendse A, Stevenson T, Lund ET, Nugent RA, Nomanbhoy TK, Alexander JP, Cravatt BF (November 2007). "Novel mechanistic class of fatty acid amide hydrolase inhibitors with remarkable selectivity". Biochemistry. 46 (45): 13019–30. doi:10.1021/bi701378g. PMID 17949010.
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  40. Clinical trial number NCT01748695 NCT01748695 for " A Safety, Tolerability and Efficacy Study of V158866 in Central Neuropathic Pain Following Spinal Cord Injury" at ClinicalTrials.gov
  41. US granted 8450346, "Azetidine derivatives as FAAH inhibitors", published 28 May 2013, assigned to Vernalis (R&D) Ltd.
  42. Roughley SD, Browne H, Macias AT, Benwell K, Brooks T, D'Alessandro J, et al. (January 2012). "Fatty acid amide hydrolase inhibitors. 3: tetra-substituted azetidine ureas with in vivo activity". Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters. 22 (2): 901–6. doi:10.1016/j.bmcl.2011.12.032. PMID 22209458.
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  44. Han B, Wright R, Kirchhoff AM, Chester JA, Cooper BR, Davisson VJ, Barker E (January 2013). "Quantitative LC-MS/MS analysis of arachidonoyl amino acids in mouse brain with treatment of FAAH inhibitor". Analytical Biochemistry. 432 (2): 74–81. doi:10.1016/j.ab.2012.09.031. PMC 3760509Freely accessible. PMID 23044255.
  45. PDB: 2VYA; Mileni M, Johnson DS, Wang Z, Everdeen DS, Liimatta M, Pabst B, Bhattacharya K, Nugent RA, Kamtekar S, Cravatt BF, Ahn K, Stevens RC (September 2008). "Structure-guided inhibitor design for human FAAH by interspecies active site conversion". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 105 (35): 12820–4. doi:10.1073/pnas.0806121105. PMC 2529035Freely accessible. PMID 18753625.

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