“Even a brief exposure to severe stress strengthens synaptic connectivity days later in the amygdala, a brain area implicated in the affective symptoms of stress-related psychiatric disorders. However, little is known about the synaptic signaling mechanisms during stress that eventually culminate in its delayed impact on the amygdala. Hence, we investigated early stress-induced changes in amygdalar synaptic signaling in order to prevent its delayed effects.
Whole-cell recordings in basolateral amygdala (BLA) slices from rats revealed higher frequency of miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents (mEPSCs) immediately after 2-h immobilization stress. This was replicated by inhibition of cannabinoid receptors (CB1R), suggesting a role for endocannabinoid (eCB) signaling.
Stress also reduced N-arachidonoylethanolamine (AEA), an endogenous ligand of CB1R. Since stress-induced activation of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) reduces AEA, we confirmed that oral administration of an FAAH inhibitor during stress prevents the increase in synaptic excitation in the BLA soon after stress.
Although stress also caused an immediate reduction in synaptic inhibition, this was not prevented by FAAH inhibition. Strikingly, FAAH inhibition during the traumatic stressor was also effective 10 d later on the delayed manifestation of synaptic strengthening in BLA neurons, preventing both enhanced mEPSC frequency and increased dendritic spine-density.
Thus, oral administration of an FAAH inhibitor during a brief stress prevents the early synaptic changes that eventually build up to hyperexcitability in the amygdala. This framework is of therapeutic relevance because of growing interest in targeting eCB signaling to prevent the gradual development of emotional symptoms and underlying amygdalar dysfunction triggered by traumatic stress.”
“Treating Cancer-induced bone pain (CIBP) continues to be a major clinical challenge and underlying mechanisms of CIBP remain unclear.
Recently, emerging body of evidence suggested the endocannabinoid system (ECS) may play essential roles in CIBP. Here, we summarized the current understanding of the antinociceptive mechanisms of endocannabinoids in CIBP and discussed the beneficial effects of endocannabinoid for CIBP treatment.
Targeting non-selective cannabinoid 1 receptors or selective cannabinoid 2 receptors, and modulation of peripheral AEA and 2-AG, as well as the inhibition the function of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) and monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL) have produced analgesic effects in animal models of CIBP.
Management of ECS therefore appears to be a promising way for the treatment of CIBP in terms of efficacy and safety. Further clinical studies are encouraged to confirm the possible translation to humans of the very promising results already obtained in the preclinical studies.”
“The endogenous lipid metabolism network is associated with the occurrence and progression of malignancies.
Endocannabinoids and ceramides have demonstrated their anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic properties in a series of cancer studies.
The aim of the present study was to evaluate the expression patterns of endocannabinoids and endogenous ceramides in 67 pairs of human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) tissues and non-cancerous counterpart controls.
Anandamide (AEA), the major endocannabinoid, was reduced in tumor tissues, probably due to the high expression and activity of fatty acid amide hydrolase. Another important endocannabinoid, 2-arachidonylglycerol (2-AG), was elevated in tumor tissues compared with non-tumor controls, indicating that the biosynthesis of 2-AG is faster than the degradation of 2-AG in tumor cells.
Furthermore, western blot analysis demonstrated that cannabinoid receptor 1 was downregulated, while cannabinoid receptor 2 was elevated in HCC tissues, in accordance with the alterations in the levels of AEA and 2-AG, respectively. For HCC tissues, the expression levels of C18:0, 20:0 and 24:0-ceramides decreased significantly, whereas C12:0, 16:0, 18:1 and 24:1-ceramides were upregulated, which may be associated with cannabinoid receptor activation and stearoyl-CoA desaturase protein downregulation.
The exact role of endocannabinoids and ceramides in regulating the fate of HCC cells requires further investigation.”
“Combat veterans are at elevated suicide risk. The goal of this study was to test the hypothesis that combat veterans who have made a suicide attempt post-deployment can be distinguished from combat veterans who have never made a suicide attempt based on differences in psychological and biological variables. For the latter, we focused on endogenous cannabinoids, neuroendocrine markers that are associated with stress. Demographic and clinical parameters of suicide attempters and non-attempters were assessed. Blood samples were assayed for anandamide (AEA), 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), and cortisol. Suicide attempters had higher Scale for Suicidal Ideation (SSI) scores in comparison to non-attempters. Controlling for gender, 2-AG levels were higher among suicide attempters in comparison to non-attempters. Cortisol levels positively correlated with 2-AG levels and negatively correlated with SSI scores among non-attempters but not among attempters. AEA levels negatively correlated with SSI scores among attempters but not among non-attempters. Our results indicate that there are psychological and biological differences between combat veterans with or without a history of suicidal attempt. Our findings also suggest that clinically observed differences between the groups may have a neurobiological basis.”
“The endocannabinoid (eCB) system is a particularly important neuronal mechanism implicated in alcohol use disorders. Animal models are key to broadening our knowledge of the neurobiological mechanisms underlying alcohol dependence.
This study has two main aims: i) to assess how eCB levels in different brain areas are modified by alcohol-induced conditioning place preference (CPP), and ii) to study how cannabinoid type 2 receptor (CB2R) is involved in alcohol-rewarding properties, using pharmacological manipulation in C57BL/6 mice.
Our results suggest that the eCB system is dysregulated throughout the mesocorticolimbic system by repeated alcohol exposure during the CPP paradigm, and that levels of anandamide (AEA) and several other N-acylethanolamines are markedly decreased in the medial prefrontal cortex and ventral midbrain of alcohol-CPP mice.
We also observed that the administering an antagonist/inverse agonist of the CB2R (AM630) during the acquisition phase of CPP reduced the rewarding effects of alcohol. However, activating CB2R signalling using the agonist JWH133 seems to reduce both alcohol- and food-rewarding behaviours. Therefore, our findings indicate that the rewarding effects of alcohol are related to its disruptive effect on AEA and other N-acylethanolamine signalling pathways.
Thus, pharmacological manipulation of CB2R is an interesting candidate treatment for alcohol use disorders.”
“Several lines of evidence point to the potential role of the endocannabinoid system in female sexual functioning. These include results from studies describing the subjective effects of exogenous cannabinoids on sexual functioning in humans and the observable effects of exogenous cannabinoids on sexual functioning in other species, as well as results from studies investigating the location of cannabinoid receptors in the brain and periphery, and the effects of cannabinoid receptor activation on neurotransmitters implicated in sexual functioning. While these lines of research suggest a role for the endocannabinoid system in female sexual functioning, no studies investigating the relationship between concentrations of endogenous cannabinoids (i.e., arachidonoylethanolamide [AEA] and 2-arachidonoylglycerol [2-AG]) and sexual functioning have been conducted in any species.
To measure circulating endocannabinoid concentrations in relation to subjective and physiological indices of sexual arousal in women (N = 21).
Serum endocannabinoid (AEA and 2-AG) concentrations were measured immediately prior to, and immediately following, viewing of neutral (control) and erotic (experimental) film stimuli in a repeated measures design. Physiological sexual arousal was measured via vaginal photoplethysmography. Subjective sexual arousal was measured both continuously and noncontinuously. Pearson’s correlations were used to investigate the relationships between endocannabinoid concentrations and sexual arousal.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:
Changes in AEA and 2-AG concentrations from pre- to post-film and in relation to physiological and subjective indices of sexual arousal.
Results revealed a significant relationship between endocannabinoid concentrations and female sexual arousal, whereby increases in both physiological and subjective indices of sexual arousal were significantly associated with decreases in AEA, and increases in subjective indices of sexual arousal were significantly associated with decreases in 2-AG.
These findings support the hypothesis that the endocannabinoid system is involved in female sexual functioning, with implications for furthering understanding of the biological mechanisms underlying female sexual functioning.”
“The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a major regulator of synaptic plasticity and neuromodulation. Alterations of the ECS have been demonstrated in several animal models of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In some of these models, activating the ECS rescued the social deficits. Evidence for dysregulations of the ECS in human ASD are emerging, but comprehensive assessments and correlations with disease characteristics have not been reported yet.
Serum levels of the main endocannabinoids, N-arachidonoylethanolamine (AEA or anandamide) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), and their related endogenous compounds, arachidonic acid (AA), N-palmitoylethanolamine (PEA), and N-oleoylethanolamine (OEA), were analyzed by liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry in 93 children with ASD (age = 13.1 ± 4.1, range 6-21; 79% boys) and 93 age- and gender-matched neurotypical children (age = 11.8 ± 4.3, range 5.5-21; 79% boys). Results were associated with gender and use of medications, and were correlated with age, BMI, and adaptive functioning of ASD participants as reflected by scores of Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS-2), Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale-II (VABS-II), and Social Responsiveness Scale-II (SRS-2).
Children with ASD had lower levels (pmol/mL, mean ± SEM) of AEA (0.722 ± 0.045 vs. 1.252 ± 0.072, P < 0.0001, effect size 0.91), OEA (17.3 ± 0.80 vs. 27.8 ± 1.44, P < 0.0001, effect size 0.94), and PEA (4.93 ± 0.32 vs. 7.15 ± 0.37, P < 0.0001, effect size 0.65), but not AA and 2-AG. Serum levels of AEA, OEA, and PEA were not significantly associated or correlated with age, gender, BMI, medications, and adaptive functioning of ASD participants. In children with ASD, but not in the control group, younger age and lower BMI tended to correlate with lower AEA levels. However, these correlations were not statistically significant after a correction for multiple comparisons.
We found lower serum levels of AEA, PEA, and OEA in children with ASD. Further studies are needed to determine whether circulating endocannabinoid levels can be used as stratification biomarkers that identify clinically significant subgroups within the autism spectrum and if they reflect lower endocannabinoid “tone” in the brain, as found in animal models of ASD.”
“Infections caused by antibiotic-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus have reached epidemic proportions globally. Staphylococcal biofilms are associated with increased antimicrobial resistance and are generally less affected by host immune factors. Therefore, there is an urgent need for novel agents that not only aim at multidrug-resistant pathogens, but also ones that will act as anti biofilms. In the present study, we investigated the antimicrobial activity of the endocannabinoid (EC) anandamide (AEA) and the endocannabinoid-like (EC-like), arachidonoyl serine (AraS) against methicillin resistant S. aureus strains (MRSA). We observed a strong inhibition of biofilm formation of all tested MRSA strains as well as a notable reduction of metabolic activity of pre-formed MRSA biofilms by both agents. Moreover, staphylococcal biofilm-associated virulence determinants such as hydrophobicity, cell aggregation and spreading ability were altered by AEA and AraS. In addition, the agents were able to modify bacterial membrane potential. Importantly, both compounds prevent biofilm formation by altering the surface of the cell without killing the bacteria. Therefore, we propose that EC and EC-like compounds may act as a natural line of defence against MRSA or other antibiotic resistant bacteria. Due to their anti biofilm action these agents could also be a promising alternative to antibiotic therapeutics against biofilm-associated MRSA infections.”
“The endocannabinoids anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG) are endogenous lipid mediators that exert protective roles in pathophysiological conditions, including cardiovascular diseases. In this brief review, we provide a conceptual framework linking endocannabinoid signaling to the control of the cellular and molecular hallmarks, and categorize the key components of endocannabinoid signaling that may serve as targets for novel therapeutics. The emerging picture not only reinforces endocannabinoids as potent regulators of cellular metabolism but also reveals that endocannabinoid signaling is mechanistically more complex and diverse than originally thought.”
“The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is involved in a considerable number of physiological processes in the Central Nervous System.
Recently, a modulatory role of cannabinoid receptors (CBr) and CBr agonists on the reduction of the N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAr) activation has been demonstrated. Quinolinic acid (QUIN), an endogenous analog of glutamate and excitotoxic metabolite produced in the kynurenine pathway (KP), selectively activates NMDAr and has been shown to participate in different neurodegenerative disorders.
Since the early pattern of toxicity exerted by this metabolite is relevant to explain the extent of damage that it can produce in the brain, in this work we investigated the effects of the synthetic CBr agonist WIN 55,212-2 (WIN) and other agonists (anandamide or AEA, and CP 55,940 or CP) on early markers of QUIN-induced toxicity in rat striatal cultured cells and rat brain synaptosomes.
WIN, AEA and CP exerted protective effects on the QUIN-induced loss of cell viability. WIN also preserved the immunofluorescent signals for neurons and CBr labeling that were decreased by QUIN. The QUIN-induced early mitochondrial dysfunction, lipid peroxidation and reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation were also partially or completely prevented by WIN pretreatment, but not when this CBr agonist was added simultaneously with QUIN to brain synaptosomes.
These findings support a neuroprotective and modulatory role of cannabinoids in the early toxic events elicited by agents inducing excitotoxic processes.”