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We sought to replicate previous findings that low endogenous opioid (EO) function predicts greater morphine analgesia and extended these findings by examining whether circulating endocannabinoids and related lipids moderate EO-related predictive effects. Individuals with chronic low-back pain (n = 46) provided blood samples for endocannabinoid analyses, then underwent separate identical laboratory sessions under 3 drug conditions: saline placebo, intravenous (i.v.) naloxone (opioid antagonist; 12-mg total), and i.v. morphine (0.09-mg/kg total). During each session, participants rated low-back pain intensity, evoked heat pain intensity, and nonpain subjective effects 4 times in sequence after incremental drug dosing. Mean morphine effects (morphine-placebo difference) and opioid blockade effects (naloxone-placebo difference; to index EO function) for each primary outcome (low-back pain intensity, evoked heat pain intensity, and nonpain subjective effects) were derived by averaging across the 4 incremental doses. The association between EO function and morphine-induced back pain relief was significantly moderated by endocannabinoids [2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) and N-arachidonoylethanolamine (AEA)]. Lower EO function predicted greater morphine analgesia only for those with relatively lower endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids also significantly moderated EO effects on morphine-related changes in visual analog scale-evoked pain intensity (2-AG), drug liking (AEA and 2-AG), and desire to take again (AEA and 2-AG). In the absence of significant interactions, lower EO function predicted significantly greater morphine analgesia (as in past work) and euphoria. Results indicate that EO effects on analgesic and subjective responses to opioid medications are greatest when endocannabinoid levels are low. These findings may help guide development of mechanism-based predictors for personalized pain medicine algorithms.
Recent studies have demonstrated anxiolytic potential of pharmacological endocannabinoid (eCB) augmentation approaches in a variety of preclinical models. Pharmacological inhibition of endocannabinoid-degrading enzymes, such as fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) and monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL), elicit promising anxiolytic effects in rodent models with limited adverse behavioral effects, however, the efficacy of dual FAAH/MAGL inhibition has not been investigated. In the present study, we compared the effects of FAAH (PF-3845), MAGL (JZL184) and dual FAAH/MAGL (JZL195) inhibitors on (1) anxiety-like behaviors under non-stressed and stressed conditions, (2) locomotor activity and body temperature, (3) lipid levels in the brain and (4) cognitive functions. Behavioral analysis showed that PF-3845 or JZL184, but not JZL195, was able to prevent restraint stress-induced anxiety in the light-dark box assay when administered before stress exposure. Moreover, JZL195 treatment was not able to reverse foot shock-induced anxiety-like behavior in the elevated zero maze or light-dark box. JZL195, but not PF-3845 or JZL184, decreased body temperature and increased anxiety-like behavior in the open-field test. Overall, JZL195 did not show anxiolytic efficacy and the effects of JZL184 were more robust than that of PF-3845 in the models examined. These results showed that increasing either endogenous AEA or 2-AG separately produces anti-anxiety effects under stressful conditions but the same effects are not obtained from simultaneously increasing both AEA and 2-AG.
BACKGROUND - Endocannabinoid signaling plays an important role in regulating synaptic transmission in the striatum, a brain region implicated as a central node of dysfunction in autism spectrum disorder. Deficits in signaling mediated by the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) have been reported in mouse models of autism spectrum disorder, but a causal role for striatal 2-AG deficiency in phenotypes relevant to autism spectrum disorder has not been explored.
METHODS - Using conditional knockout mice, we examined the electrophysiological, biochemical, and behavioral effects of 2-AG deficiency by deleting its primary synthetic enzyme, diacylglycerol lipase α (DGLα), from dopamine D receptor-expressing or adenosine A2a receptor-expressing medium spiny neurons (MSNs) to determine the role of 2-AG signaling in striatal direct or indirect pathways, respectively. We then used viral-mediated deletion of DGLα to study the effects of 2-AG deficiency in the ventral and dorsal striatum.
RESULTS - Targeted deletion of DGLα from direct-pathway MSNs caused deficits in social interaction, excessive grooming, and decreased exploration of a novel environment. In contrast, deletion from indirect-pathway MSNs had no effect on any measure of behavior examined. Loss of 2-AG in direct-pathway MSNs also led to increased glutamatergic drive, which is consistent with a loss of retrograde feedback inhibition. Subregional DGLα deletion from the dorsal striatum produced deficits in social interaction, whereas deletion from the ventral striatum resulted in repetitive grooming.
CONCLUSIONS - These data suggest a role for 2-AG deficiency in social deficits and repetitive behavior, and they demonstrate a key role for 2-AG in regulating striatal direct-pathway MSNs.
Copyright © 2018 Society of Biological Psychiatry. All rights reserved.
BACKGROUND - Increasing the available repertoire of effective treatments for mood and anxiety disorders represents a critical unmet need. Pharmacological augmentation of endogenous cannabinoid (eCB) signaling has been suggested to represent a novel approach to the treatment of anxiety disorders; however, the functional interactions between two canonical eCB pathways mediated via anandamide (N-arachidonylethanolamine [AEA]) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) in the regulation of anxiety are not well understood.
METHODS - We utilized pharmacological augmentation and depletion combined with behavioral and electrophysiological approaches to probe the role of 2-AG signaling in the modulation of stress-induced anxiety and the functional redundancy between AEA and 2-AG signaling in the modulation of anxiety-like behaviors in mice.
RESULTS - Selective 2-AG augmentation reduced anxiety in the light/dark box assay and prevented stress-induced increases in anxiety associated with limbic AEA deficiency. In contrast, acute 2-AG depletion increased anxiety-like behaviors, which was normalized by selective pharmacological augmentation of AEA signaling and via direct cannabinoid receptor 1 stimulation with Δ-tetrahydrocannabinol. Electrophysiological studies revealed 2-AG modulation of amygdala glutamatergic transmission as a key synaptic correlate of the anxiolytic effects of 2-AG augmentation.
CONCLUSIONS - Although AEA and 2-AG likely subserve distinct physiological roles, a pharmacological and functional redundancy between these canonical eCB signaling pathways exists in the modulation of anxiety-like behaviors. These data support development of eCB-based treatment approaches for mood and anxiety disorders and suggest a potentially wider therapeutic overlap between AEA and 2-AG augmentation approaches than was previously appreciated.
Copyright © 2017 Society of Biological Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Stress is a ubiquitous risk factor for the exacerbation and development of affective disorders including major depression and posttraumatic stress disorder. Understanding the neurobiological mechanisms conferring resilience to the adverse consequences of stress could have broad implications for the treatment and prevention of mood and anxiety disorders. We utilize laboratory mice and their innate inter-individual differences in stress-susceptibility to demonstrate a critical role for the endogenous cannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) in stress-resilience. Specifically, systemic 2-AG augmentation is associated with a stress-resilient phenotype and enhances resilience in previously susceptible mice, while systemic 2-AG depletion or CB1 receptor blockade increases susceptibility in previously resilient mice. Moreover, stress-resilience is associated with increased phasic 2-AG-mediated synaptic suppression at ventral hippocampal-amygdala glutamatergic synapses and amygdala-specific 2-AG depletion impairs successful adaptation to repeated stress. These data indicate amygdala 2-AG signalling mechanisms promote resilience to adverse effects of acute traumatic stress and facilitate adaptation to repeated stress exposure.
Obesity is a pandemic, gateway disease that has thrived in modern, sedentary, high calorie-eating societies. Left unchecked, obesity and obesity-related diseases will continue to plague future generations with heavy burdens on economies, healthcare systems, and the quality of life of billions. There is a significant need to elucidate basic physiological mechanisms and therapies that address this global health care crisis. Oleoylethanolamide (OEA) is an endocannabinoid-like lipid that induces hypophagia and reduces fat mass in rodents. For over a decade, PPAR-α has been the most widely accepted mediator of the hypophagic action of OEA via signaling to homeostatic brain centers. Recent evidence suggests that OEA may also reduce food intake via effects on dopamine and endocannabinoid signaling within hedonic brain centers. Limited study of OEA supplementation in humans has provided some encouraging insight into OEA-based weight loss therapy, but more thorough, controlled investigations are needed. As a potential link between homeostatic and hedonic regulation of food intake, OEA is a prime starting point for the development of more effective obesity therapies.
Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Early-life inflammation has been shown to exert profound effects on brain development and behavior, including altered emotional behavior, stress responsivity and neurochemical/neuropeptide receptor expression and function. The current study extends this research by examining the impact of inflammation, triggered with the bacterial compound lipopolysaccharide (LPS) on postnatal day (P) 14, on social behavior during adolescence. We investigated the role that the endocannabinoid (eCB) system plays in sociability after early-life LPS. To test this, multiple cohorts of Sprague Dawley rats were injected with LPS on P14. In adolescence, rats were subjected to behavioral testing in a reciprocal social interaction paradigm as well as the open field. We quantified eCB levels in the amygdala of P14 and adolescent animals (anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol) as well as adolescent amygdaloid cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) binding site density and the hydrolytic activity of the enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), which metabolizes the eCB anandamide. Additionally, we examined the impact of FAAH inhibition on alterations in social behavior. Our results indicate that P14 LPS decreases adolescent social behavior (play and social non-play) in males and females at P40. This behavioral alteration is accompanied by decreased CB1 binding, increased anandamide levels and increased FAAH activity. Oral administration of the FAAH inhibitor PF-04457845 (1mg/kg) prior to the social interaction task normalizes LPS-induced alterations in social behavior, while not affecting social behavior in the control group. Infusion of 10ng PF-04457845 into the basolateral amygdala normalized social behavior in LPS injected females. These data suggest that alterations in eCB signaling following postnatal inflammation contribute to impairments in social behavior during adolescence and that inhibition of FAAH could be a novel target for disorders involving social deficits such as social anxiety disorders or autism.
Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The endocannabinoids, 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) and arachidonylethanolamide (AEA), are endogenous ligands for the cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) and are implicated in a wide array of physiological processes. These neutral arachidonic acid (AA) derivatives have been identified as efficient substrates for the second isoform of the cyclooxygenase enzyme (COX-2). A diverse family of prostaglandin glycerol esters (PG-Gs) and prostaglandin ethanolamides (PG-EAs) is generated by the action of COX-2 (and downstream prostaglandin synthases) on 2-AG and AEA. As the biological importance of the endocannabinoid system becomes more apparent, there is a tremendous need for robust, sensitive, and efficient analytical methodology for the endocannabinoids and their metabolites. In this chapter, we describe methodology suitable for carrying out oxygenation of endocannabinoids by COX-2, and analysis of products of endocannabinoid oxygenation by COX-2 and of endocannabinoids themselves from in vitro and cell assays.
Agonism of the glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptor (GLP-1R) has been effective at treating aspects of addictive behavior for a number of abused substances, including cocaine. However, the molecular mechanisms and brain circuits underlying the therapeutic effects of GLP-1R signaling on cocaine actions remain elusive. Recent evidence has revealed that endogenous signaling at the GLP-1R within the forebrain lateral septum (LS) acts to reduce cocaine-induced locomotion and cocaine conditioned place preference, both considered dopamine (DA)-associated behaviors. DA terminals project from the ventral tegmental area to the LS and express the DA transporter (DAT). Cocaine acts by altering DA bioavailability by targeting the DAT. Therefore, GLP-1R signaling might exert effects on DAT to account for its regulation of cocaine-induced behaviors. We show that the GLP-1R is highly expressed within the LS. GLP-1, in LS slices, significantly enhances DAT surface expression and DAT function. Exenatide (Ex-4), a long-lasting synthetic analog of GLP-1 abolished cocaine-induced elevation of DA. Interestingly, acute administration of Ex-4 reduces septal expression of the retrograde messenger 2-arachidonylglycerol (2-AG), as well as a product of its presynaptic degradation, arachidonic acid (AA). Notably, AA reduces septal DAT function pointing to AA as a novel regulator of central DA homeostasis. We further show that AA oxidation product γ-ketoaldehyde (γ-KA) forms adducts with the DAT and reduces DAT plasma membrane expression and function. These results support a mechanism in which postsynaptic septal GLP-1R activation regulates 2-AG levels to alter presynaptic DA homeostasis and cocaine actions through AA.
Endocannabinoids (eCBs) are a class of bioactive lipids that mediate retrograde synaptic modulation at central and peripheral synapses. The highly lipophilic nature of eCBs and the pharmacological tools available to interrogate this system require unique methodological consideration, especially when applied to ex vivo systems such as electrophysiological analysis in acute brain slices. This unit provides protocols for measuring cannabinoid and eCB-mediated synaptic signaling in mouse brain slices, including analysis of short-term, long-term, and tonic eCB signaling modes, and the unique considerations for working with eCBs and TRPV1/cannabinoid ligands in acute brain slices.
Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.