Targeting Cannabinoid Signaling in the Immune System: “High”-ly Exciting Questions, Possibilities, and Challenges.

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“It is well known that certain active ingredients of the plants of Cannabis genus, i.e., the “phytocannabinoids” [pCBs; e.g., (-)-trans9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), (-)-cannabidiol, etc.] can influence a wide array of biological processes, and the human body is able to produce endogenous analogs of these substances [“endocannabinoids” (eCB), e.g., arachidonoylethanolamine (anandamide, AEA), 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), etc.].

These ligands, together with multiple receptors (e.g., CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors, etc.), and a complex enzyme and transporter apparatus involved in the synthesis and degradation of the ligands constitute the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a recently emerging regulator of several physiological processes.

The ECS is widely expressed in the human body, including several members of the innate and adaptive immune system, where eCBs, as well as several pCBs were shown to deeply influence immune functions thereby regulating inflammation, autoimmunity, antitumor, as well as antipathogen immune responses, etc.

Based on this knowledge, many in vitro and in vivo studies aimed at exploiting the putative therapeutic potential of cannabinoid signaling in inflammation-accompanied diseases (e.g., multiple sclerosis) or in organ transplantation, and to dissect the complex immunological effects of medical and “recreational” marijuana consumption.

Thus, the objective of the current article is (i) to summarize the most recent findings of the field; (ii) to highlight the putative therapeutic potential of targeting cannabinoid signaling; (iii) to identify open questions and key challenges; and (iv) to suggest promising future directions for cannabinoid-based drug development.”   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29176975

“Although, many open questions await to be answered, pharmacological modulation of the (endo)cannabinoid signaling, and restoration of the homeostatic eCB tone of the tissues augur to be very promising future directions in the management of several pathological inflammation-accompanied diseases.”   https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2017.01487/full
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Characterization of endocannabinoids and related acylethanolamides in the synovial fluid of dogs with osteoarthritis: a pilot study.

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“Cannabis-based drugs have been shown to be effective in inflammatory diseases.

A number of endocannabinoids including N- arachidonoylethanolamide (anandamide, AEA) and 2-arachidonyl glycerol (2-AG) with activity at the cannabinoidreceptors (CBR) CBR1 and CBR2, have been identified. Other structurally related endogenous fatty acid compounds such as oleoylethanolamide (OEA) and palmitoyl ethanolamide (PEA) have been identified in biological tissues.

These compounds do not bind to CBR but might be involved in facilitating the actions of directly acting endocannabinoids and thus are commonly termed “entourage” compounds due to their ability to modulate the endocannabinoid system.

The aim of this study was to evaluate the presence of endocannabinoids and entourage compounds in the synovial fluid of dogs with osteoarthritis subjected to arthrotomy of the knee joint. Cytokines and cytology were studied as well.

AEA, 2-AG, OEA and PEA were all present in the synovial fluid of arthritic knees and in the contralateral joints; in addition, a significant increase of OEA and 2AG levels were noted in SF from OA knees when compared to the contralateral joints.

The identification and quantification of endocannabinoids and entourage compounds levels in synovial fluids from dogs with OA of the knee is reported for the first time. Our data are instrumental for future studies involving a greater number of dogs. Cannabinoids represent an emerging and innovative pharmacological tool for the treatment of OA and further studies are warranted to evaluate the effectiveness of cannabinoids in veterinary medicine.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29110674

“The ECS can be exploited as a potential therapeutic option for OA. We have demonstrated the presence of AEA, 2-AG, OEA and PEA in the SF of dogs with OA. Our data open the avenue to future studies involving a higher number of dogs and aimed at defining the role played by these compounds in OA of the dogs. Both plant-derived and synthetic agonists of CBRs represent an emerging and innovative pharmacological tool for the treatment of OA. ” https://bmcvetres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12917-017-1245-7

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[Cannabinoid receptor system regulates ion channels and synaptic transmission in retinal cells].

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“Endocannabinoid receptor system is extensively expressed in the vertebrate retina. There are two types of cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2. Activation of these two receptors by endocannabinoids N-arachidonoylethanolamide (anandamine, AEA) and 2-arachidonyl glycerol (2-AG) regulates multiple neuronal and glial ion channels, thus getting involved in retinal visual information processing. In this review, incorporating our results, we discuss the modulation of cannabinoid CB1 and CB2 receptors on retinal neuronal and glial ion channels and retinal synaptic transmission.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29063116

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Human bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells secrete endocannabinoids that stimulate in vitro hematopoietic stem cell migration effectively comparable to beta adrenergic stimulation.

Experimental Hematology Home

“Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor (G-CSF) is a well-known hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) mobilizing agent used in both allogeneic and autologous transplantation. However, a proportion of patients or healthy donors fail to mobilize sufficient number of cells. New mobilization agents are therefore needed.

Endocannabinoids (eCBs) are endogenous lipid mediators generated in the brain and peripheral tissues and activate the cannabinoid receptors (CB1, CB2). We suggest that eCBs may act as mobilizers of hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) from the BM under stress conditions as beta adrenergic receptors (Adrβ).

This study demonstrates that bone marrow (BM) mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) secrete anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonylglycerol (2-AG), and peripheral blood (PB) and BM microenvironment contain AEA and 2-AG. 2-AG levels are significantly higher in PB of the G-CSF treated group when compared to BM plasma. BM mononuclear cells (MNCs) and CD34+HSCs, express CB1, CB2 and Adrβ subtypes. CD34+HSCs had higher CB1 and CB2 receptor expression in G-CSF untreated and treated groups when compared to MSCs. MNCs but not MSCs expressed CB1 and CB2 receptors based on qRT-PCR and flow cytometry (FC). AEA and 2-AG stimulated HSC migration was blocked by eCB receptor antagonists in in vitro migration assay.

In conclusion, components of the eCB system and their interaction with Adrβ subtypes were demonstrated on HSCs and MSCs of G-CSF treated and untreated healthy donors in vitro, revealing that eCBs might be potential candidates to enhance or facilitate G-CSF-mediated HSC migration under stress conditions in a clinical setting.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29030083

http://www.exphem.org/article/S0301-472X(17)30813-5/fulltext

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Cannabinoid CB1 Discrimination: Effects of Endocannabinoids and Catabolic Enzyme Inhibitors.

Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics

“An improved understanding of the endocannabinoid system has provided new avenues of drug discovery and development toward the management of pain and other behavioral maladies. Exogenous cannabinoid type-1 (CB1) receptor agonists such as Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol are increasingly utilized for their medicinal actions; however, their utility is constrained by concern regarding abuse-related subjective effects. This has led to growing interest in the clinical benefit of indirectly enhancing the activity of the highly labile endocannabinoids N-arachidonoylethanolamine (anandamide; AEA) and/or 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) via catabolic enzyme inhibition. The present studies were conducted to determine whether such actions can lead to CB1 agonist-like subjective effects, as reflected in the presence or absence of CB1-related discriminative-stimulus effects in laboratory subjects. Squirrel monkeys (n=8) that discriminated the CB1 full agonist AM4054 (0.01 mg/kg) from vehicle were used to study, first, inhibitors of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) or monoacylglycerol lipase (MGL) alone or in combination [FAAH (URB597, AM4303); MGL (AM4301); FAAH/MGL (AM4302)] and, second, the ability of the endocannabinoids AEA and 2-AG to produce CB1 agonist-like effects when administered alone or after enzyme inhibition. Results indicate that CB1-related discriminative-stimulus effects were produced by combined, but not selective, inhibition of FAAH and MGL, and that these effects were non-surmountably antagonized by low doses of rimonabant. Additionally, FAAH- or MGL-inhibition revealed CB1-like subjective effects produced by AEA, but not 2-AG. Taken together, the present data suggest that therapeutic effects of combined, but not selective, enhancement of AEA or 2-AG activity via enzyme inhibition may be accompanied by CB1 receptor-mediated subjective effects.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28947487

http://jpet.aspetjournals.org/content/early/2017/09/25/jpet.117.244392

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Interplay Between n-3 and n-6 Long-Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and the Endocannabinoid System in Brain Protection and Repair.

 Lipids

“The brain is enriched in arachidonic acid (ARA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) of the n-6 and n-3 series, respectively. Both are essential for optimal brain development and function. Dietary enrichment with DHA and other long-chain n-3 PUFA, such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), has shown beneficial effects on learning and memory, neuroinflammatory processes, and synaptic plasticity and neurogenesis. ARA, DHA and EPA are precursors to a diverse repertoire of bioactive lipid mediators, including endocannabinoids.

The endocannabinoid system comprises cannabinoid receptors, their endogenous ligands, the endocannabinoids, and their biosynthetic and degradation enzymes. Anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) are the most widely studied endocannabinoids and are both derived from phospholipid-bound ARA. The endocannabinoid system also has well-established roles in neuroinflammation, synaptic plasticity and neurogenesis, suggesting an overlap in the neuroprotective effects observed with these different classes of lipids.

Indeed, growing evidence suggests a complex interplay between n-3 and n-6 LCPUFA and the endocannabinoid system. For example, long-term DHA and EPA supplementation reduces AEA and 2-AG levels, with reciprocal increases in levels of the analogous endocannabinoid-like DHA and EPA-derived molecules. This review summarises current evidence of this interplay and discusses the therapeutic potential for brain protection and repair.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28875399

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11745-017-4292-8

“The seed of Cannabis sativa L. has been an important source of nutrition for thousands of years in Old World cultures. Technically a nut, hempseed typically contains over 30% oil and about 25% protein, with considerable amounts of dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals. Hempseed oil is over 80% in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), and is an exceptionally rich source of the two essential fatty acids (EFAs) linoleic acid (18:2 omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (18:3 omega-3). The omega-6 to omega-3 ratio (n6/n3) in hempseed oil is normally between 2:1 and 3:1, which is considered to be optimal for human health. Hempseed has been used to treat various disorders for thousands of years in traditional oriental medicine.”  http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10681-004-4811-6

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CB1 and CB2 Receptor Pharmacology.

Advances in Pharmacology

“The CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors (CB1R, CB2R) are members of the G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) family that were identified over 20 years ago. CB1Rs and CB2Rs mediate the effects of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC), the principal psychoactive constituent of marijuana, and subsequently identified endogenous cannabinoids (endocannabinoids) anandamide and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol. CB1Rs and CB2Rs have both similarities and differences in their pharmacology. Both receptors recognize multiple classes of agonist and antagonist compounds and produce an array of distinct downstream effects. Natural polymorphisms and alternative splice variants may also contribute to their pharmacological diversity. As our knowledge of the distinct differences grows, we may be able to target select receptor conformations and their corresponding pharmacological responses. This chapter will discuss their pharmacological characterization, distribution, phylogeny, and signaling pathways. In addition, the effects of extended agonist exposure and how that affects signaling and expression patterns of the receptors are considered.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28826534

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1054358917300340?via%3Dihub

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Endocannabinoid Analytical Methodologies: Techniques That Drive Discoveries That Drive Techniques.

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“Identification of the two major endogenous cannabinoid ligands, known as endocannabinoids, N-arachidonoyl-ethanolamine (anandamide, AEA) and 2-arachidonoyl-glycerol (2-AG), opened the way for the identification and isolation of other lipid congeners, all derivatives of fatty acids and related to the Endocannabinoid System. The nomenclature of this anandamide-type class of lipids is evolving as new species are discovered all the time. However, they each fall under the larger umbrella of lipids that are a conjugation of a fatty acid with an amine through and amide bond, which we will refer to as lipoamines. Specific subspecies of lipoamines that have been discovered are the N-acyl-ethanolamides (including AEA), N-acyl-dopamines, N-acyl-serotonins, N-acyl-GABA, N-acyl-taurines, and a growing number of N-acyl amino acids. Emerging data from multiple labs also show that monoacylglycerols (including 2-AG), COX-2 metabolites, and fatty acid esters of hydroxyl fatty acids are interconnected with these lipoamines at both the biosynthetic and metabolic levels. Understanding the molecular relatedness of these lipids is important for studying how they act as signaling molecules; however, a first step in this process hinges on advances in being able to accurately measure them.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28826532

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Effects of Centrally Administered Endocannabinoids and Opioids on Orofacial Pain Perception in Rats.

British Journal of Pharmacology

“Endocannabinoids and opioids play a vital role in mediating pain-induced analgesia.

The specific effects of these compounds within orofacial region are largely unknown. In this study we tried to determine whether the increase of cannabinoid and opioid concentration in cerebrospinal fluid affects impulse transmission between the motor centers localized in the vicinity of the third and fourth cerebral ventricles.

We demonstrated that in the orofacial area analgesic activity is modulated by AEA and that EM-2-induced antinociception was mediated by MOR and CB1 receptors. The action of AEA and EM-2 is tightly regulated by FAAH and FAAH/MAGL, by preventing the breakdown of endogenous cannabinoids in regions where they are produced on demand.

Therefore, the current findings support the therapeutic potential of FAAH and FAAH/MAGL inhibitors as novel pharmacotherapeutic agents for orofacial pain.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28771697

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bph.13970/abstract

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Endocannabinoid Transport Proteins: Discovery of Tools to Study Sterol Carrier Protein-2.

Elsevier

“The endocannabinoid (eCB) neurotransmitter system regulates diverse neurological functions including stress and anxiety, pain, mood, and reward. Understanding the mechanisms underlying eCB regulation is critical for developing targeted pharmacotherapies to treat these and other neurologic disorders.

Cellular studies suggest that the arachidonate eCBs, N-arachidonoylethanolamine (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), are substrates for intracellular binding and transport proteins, and several candidate proteins have been identified. Initial evidence from our laboratory indicates that the lipid transport protein, sterol carrier protein 2 (SCP-2), binds to the eCBs and can regulate their cellular concentrations.

Here, we present methods for evaluating SCP-2 binding of eCBs and their application to the discovery of the first inhibitor lead molecules. Using a fluorescent probe displacement assay, we found SCP-2 binds the eCBs, AEA (Ki=0.68±0.05μM) and 2-AG (Ki=0.37±0.02μM), with moderate affinity. A series of structurally diverse arachidonate analogues also bind SCP-2 with Ki values between 0.82 and 2.95μM, suggesting a high degree of tolerance for arachidonic acid head group modifications in this region of the protein. We also report initial structure-activity relationships surrounding previously reported inhibitors of Aedis aegypti SCP-2, and the results of an in silico high-throughput screen that identified structurally novel SCP-2 inhibitor leads.

The methods and results reported here provide the basis for a robust probe discovery effort to fully elucidate the role of facilitated transport mediated by SCP-2 in eCB regulation and function.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28750817

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S007668791730174X?via%3Dihub

 

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