“Inhibition of monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL), the primary enzyme that hydrolyzes the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) in the brain, produces profound anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects and improves synaptic and cognitive functions in animal models of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects produced by inhibition of 2-AG metabolism are still not clear.
The cannabinoid receptor type 2 (CB2R) has been thought to be a therapeutic target for AD. Here, we provide evidence, however, that CB2R does not play a role in ameliorating AD neuropathology produced by inactivation of MAGL in 5XFAD APP transgenic mice, an animal model of AD.
Our results suggest that CB2R is not required in ameliorating neuropathology and preventing cognitive decline by inhibition of 2-AG metabolism in AD model animals.”
“In the era of combined antiretroviral therapy (cART), human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) is considered a chronic disease that specifically targets the brain and causes HIV-1-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND). Endocannabinoids (eCBs) elicit neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory actions in several central nervous system (CNS) disease models, but their effects in HAND remain unknown. HIV-1 does not infect neurons, but produces viral toxins, such as transactivator of transcription (Tat), that disrupt neuronal calcium equilibrium and give rise to synaptodendritic injuries and cell death, the former being highly correlated with HAND. Consequently, we tested whether the eCBs N-arachidonoyl ethanolamine (anandamide/AEA) and 2-arachidonoyl-glycerol (2-AG) offer neuroprotective actions in a neuronal culture model. Specifically, we examined the neuroprotective actions of these eCBs on Tat excitotoxicity in primary cultures of prefrontal cortex neurons (PFC), and whether cannabinoid receptors mediate this neuroprotection. Tat-induced excitotoxicity was reflected by increased intracellular calcium levels, synaptodendritic damage, neuronal excitability, and neuronal death. Further, upregulation of cannabinoid 1 receptor (CB1R) protein levels was noted in the presence of HIV-1 Tat. The direct application of AEA and 2-AG reduced excitotoxic levels of intracellular calcium and promoted neuronal survival following Tat exposure, which was prevented by the CB1R antagonist rimonabant, but not by the CB2R antagonist AM630. Overall, our findings indicate that eCBs protect PFC neurons from Tat excitotoxicity in vitro via a CB1R-related mechanism. Thus, the eCB system possesses promising targets for treatment of neurodegenerative disorders associated with HIV-1 infection.”
“The endocannabinoid system is thought to modulate nociceptive signaling making it a potential therapeutic target for treating pain.
However, there is evidence that endocannabinoids have both pro- and anti-nociceptive effects. In previous studies using Hirudo verbana (the medicinal leech), endocannabinoids were found to depress nociceptive synapses, but enhance non-nociceptive synapses. Here we examined whether endocannabinoids have similar bidirectional effects on behavioral responses to nociceptive vs. non-nociceptive stimuli in vivo.
These results provide evidence that endocannabinoids can have opposing effects on nociceptive vs. non-nociceptive pathways and suggest that cannabinoid-based therapies may be more appropriate for treating pain disorders in which hyperalgesia and not allodynia is the primary symptom.”
“Clinical studies suggest that diets rich in ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) provide beneficial anti-inflammatory effects, in part through their conversion to bioactive metabolites. Here we report on the endogenous production of a previously unknown class of ω-3 PUFA-derived lipid metabolites that originate from the crosstalk between endocannabinoid and cytochrome P450 (CYP) epoxygenase metabolic pathways. The ω-3 endocannabinoid epoxides are derived from docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) to form epoxyeicosatetraenoic acid-ethanolamide (EEQ-EA) and epoxydocosapentaenoic acid-ethanolamide (EDP-EA), respectively. Both EEQ-EAs and EDP-EAs are endogenously present in rat brain and peripheral organs as determined via targeted lipidomics methods. These metabolites were directly produced by direct epoxygenation of the ω-3 endocannabinoids, docosahexanoyl ethanolamide (DHEA) and eicosapentaenoyl ethanolamide (EPEA) by activated BV-2 microglial cells, and by human CYP2J2. Neuroinflammation studies revealed that the terminal epoxides 17,18-EEQ-EA and 19,20-EDP-EA dose-dependently abated proinflammatory IL-6 cytokines while increasing anti-inflammatory IL-10 cytokines, in part through cannabinoid receptor-2 activation. Furthermore the ω-3 endocannabinoid epoxides 17,18-EEQ-EA and 19,20-EDP-EA exerted antiangiogenic effects in human microvascular endothelial cells (HMVEC) and vasodilatory actions on bovine coronary arteries and reciprocally regulated platelet aggregation in washed human platelets. Taken together, the ω-3 endocannabinoid epoxides’ physiological effects are mediated through both endocannabinoid and epoxyeicosanoid signaling pathways. In summary, the ω-3 endocannabinoid epoxides are found at concentrations comparable to those of other endocannabinoids and are expected to play critical roles during inflammation in vivo; thus their identification may aid in the development of therapeutics for neuroinflammatory and cerebrovascular diseases.”
“Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are lipid derivatives of omega-3 (docosahexaenoic acid, DHA, and eicosapentaenoic acid, EPA) or of omega-6 (arachidonic acid, ARA) synthesized from membrane phospholipids and used as a precursor for endocannabinoids (ECs). They mediate significant effects in the fine-tune adjustment of body homeostasis. Phyto- and synthetic cannabinoids also rule the daily life of billions worldwide, as they are involved in obesity, depression and drug addiction. Consequently, there is growing interest to reveal novel active compounds in this field. Cloning of cannabinoid receptors in the 90s and the identification of the endogenous mediators arachidonylethanolamide (anandamide, AEA) and 2-arachidonyglycerol (2-AG), led to the characterization of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), together with their metabolizing enzymes and membrane transporters. Today, the ECS is known to be involved in diverse functions such as appetite control, food intake, energy balance, neuroprotection, neurodegenerative diseases, stroke, mood disorders, emesis, modulation of pain, inflammatory responses, as well as in cancer therapy. Western diet as well as restriction of micronutrients and fatty acids, such as DHA, could be related to altered production of pro-inflammatory mediators (e.g. eicosanoids) and ECs, contributing to the progression of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity, depression or impairing conditions, such as Alzheimer’ s disease. Here we review how diets based in PUFAs might be linked to ECS and to the maintenance of central and peripheral metabolism, brain plasticity, memory and learning, blood flow, and genesis of neural cells.”
“Several studies highlight a key involvement of endocannabinoid (EC) system in autism pathophysiology. The EC system is a complex network of lipid signaling pathways comprised of arachidonic acid-derived compounds (anandamide, AEA) and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG), their G-protein-coupled receptors (cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2) and the associated enzymes. In addition to autism, the EC system is also involved in several other psychiatric disorders (i.e., anxiety, major depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia). This system is a key regulator of metabolic and cellular pathways involved in autism, such as food intake, energy metabolism and immune system control. Early studies in autism animal models have demonstrated alterations in the brain’s EC system. Autism is also characterized by immune system dysregulation. This alteration includes differential monocyte and macrophage responses, and abnormal cytokine and T cell levels. EC system dysfunction in a monocyte and macrophagic cellular model of autism has been demonstrated by showing that the mRNA and protein for CB2 receptor and EC enzymes were significantly dysregulated, further indicating the involvement of the EC system in autism-associated immunological disruptions. Taken together, these new findings offer a novel perspective in autism research and indicate that the EC system could represent a novel target option for autism pharmacotherapy.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28671614
“The goal of this review is to summarize studies in which concentrations of circulating endocannabinoids in humans have been examined in relationship to physiological measurements and pathological status. The roles of endocannabinoids in the regulation of energy intake and storage have been well studied and the data obtained consistently support the hypothesis that endocannabinoid signaling is associated with increased consumption and storage of energy. Physical exercise mobilizes endocannabinoids, which could contribute to refilling of energy stores and also to the analgesic and mood-elevating effects of exercise. Circulating concentrations of 2-arachidonoylglycerol are very significantly circadian and dysregulated when sleep is disrupted. Other conditions under which circulating endocannabinoids are altered include inflammation and pain. A second important role for endocannabinoid signaling is to restore homeostasis following stress. Circulating endocannabinoids are stress-responsive and there is evidence that their concentrations are altered in disorders associated with excessive stress, including post-traumatic stress disorder. Although determination of circulating endocannabinoids can provide important information about the state of endocannabinoid signaling and thus allow for hypotheses to be defined and tested, the large number of physiological factors that contribute to their circulating concentrations makes it difficult to use them in isolation as a biomarker for a specific disorder.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28653665
“Endocannabinoids (eCBs) are a family of lipid molecules that act as key regulators of synaptic transmission and plasticity. They are synthetized “on demand” following physiological and/or pathological stimuli. Once released from postsynaptic neurons, eCBs typically act as retrograde messengers to activate presynaptic type 1 cannabinoid receptors (CB1) and induce short- or long-term depression of neurotransmitter release. Besides this canonical mechanism of action, recent findings have revealed a number of less conventional mechanisms by which eCBs regulate neural activity and synaptic function, suggesting that eCB-mediated plasticity is mechanistically more diverse than anticipated. These mechanisms include non-retrograde signaling, signaling via astrocytes, participation in long-term potentiation, and the involvement of mitochondrial CB1. Focusing on paradigmatic brain areas, such as hippocampus, striatum, and neocortex, we review typical and novel signaling mechanisms, and discuss the functional implications in normal brain function and brain diseases. In summary, eCB signaling may lead to different forms of synaptic plasticity through activation of a plethora of mechanisms, which provide further complexity to the functional consequences of eCB signaling.”
“Cannabis extracts have been used for centuries, but its main active principle ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) was identified about 50 years ago. Yet, it is only 25 years ago that the first endogenous ligand of the same receptors engaged by the cannabis agents was discovered. This “endocannabinoid (eCB)” was identified as N-arachidonoylethanolamine (or anandamide (AEA)), and was shown to have several receptors, metabolic enzymes and transporters that altogether drive its biological activity. Here I report on the latest advances about AEA metabolism, with the aim of focusing open questions still awaiting an answer for a deeper understanding of AEA activity, and for translating AEA-based drugs into novel therapeutics for human diseases.”
“Most neurodegenerative disorders (NDDs) are characterized by cognitive impairment and other neurological defects. The definite cause of and pathways underlying the progression of these NDDs are not well defined. Several mechanisms have been proposed to contribute to the development of NDDs. These mechanisms may proceed concurrently or successively, and they differ among cell types at different developmental stages in distinct brain regions. The endocannabinoid system, which involves cannabinoid receptors type 1 (CB1R) and type 2 (CB2R), endogenous cannabinoids and the enzymes that catabolize these compounds, has been shown to contribute to the development of NDDs in several animal models and human studies. In this review, we discuss the functions of the endocannabinoid (EC) system in NDDs and converse the therapeutic efficacy of targeting the endocannabinoid system to rescue NDDs.”