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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2012 Jan;340(1):11-8. doi: 10.1124/jpet.111.186858. Epub 2011 Sep 26.

Differential modulation of brainstem phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt and extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 signaling underlies WIN55,212-2 centrally mediated pressor response in conscious rats.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27834, USA.


Our recent study demonstrated that central cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB₁R) activation caused dose-related pressor response in conscious rats, and reported studies implicated the brainstem phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt-extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) pathway in blood pressure control. Therefore, in this study, we tested the hypothesis that the modulation of brainstem PI3K/Akt-ERK1/2 signaling plays a critical role in the central CB(1)R-mediated pressor response. In conscious freely moving rats, the pressor response elicited by intracisternal (i.c.) (R)-(+)-[2,3-dihydro-5-methyl-3[(4-morpholinyl)methyl]pyrrolo[1,2,3-de]-1,4-benzoxazinyl]-(1-naphthalenyl) methanone mesylate salt (WIN55,212-2) (15 μg) was associated with significant increases in ERK1/2 phosphorylation in the rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM) and the nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS). In contrast, Akt phosphorylation was significantly reduced in the same neuronal pools. Pretreatment with the selective CB₁R antagonist N-(piperidin-1-yl)-5-(4-iodophenyl)-1-(2,4-dichlorophenyl)-4-methyl-1H-pyrazole-3-carboxamide (AM251) (30 μg i.c.) attenuated the neurochemical responses elicited by central CB₁R activation. Furthermore, pretreatment with the ERK/mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase inhibitor 2'-amino-3'-methoxyflavone (PD98059) (5 μg i.c.) abrogated WIN55,212-2-evoked increases in blood pressure and neuronal ERK1/2 phosphorylation but not the reduction in Akt phosphorylation. On the other hand, prior PI3K inhibition with wortmannin (0.4 μg i.c.) exacerbated the WIN55,212-2 (7.5 and 15 μg i.c.) dose-related increases in blood pressure and ERK1/2 phosphorylation in the RVLM. The present neurochemical and integrative studies yield new insight into the critical role of two brainstem kinases, PI3K and ERK1/2, in the pressor response elicited by central CB₁R activation in conscious rats.

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