N-acylethanolamines (NAEs) are lipid-derived signalling molecules, which include palmitoylethanolamide and also a number of endocannabinoids such as arachidonoyl ethanolamide (AEA). AEA has already been identified in many species, including in minute worms such as the nematoden.
In a worm model based on overexpression of the hydrolysis (desctruction) gen faah-1 will reducing NAE levels in vivo. Recently, in Nature,Mark Lucanic and colleagues found that transgenic worm strains maintaining extra copies of the faah-1 gene had indeed reduced NAEs levels, such as reductions in eicosapentaenoyl ethanolamide, palmitoleoylethanolamide, linoleoyl ethanolamide and AEA.
NAEs play an important biological role in Nematoda, related to the life cycle and general metabolism.
Lehtonen, M.,Reisner,K.,Auriola,S.,Wong,G.&Callaway,J.C. Mass-spectrometric identification of anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol in nematodes. Chem. Biodivers. 5, 2431–2441 (2008).
Mark Lucanic et al. N-acylethanolamine signalling mediates the effect of diet on lifespan in Caenorhabditis elegans, Nature, doi:10.1038/nature10007