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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2002 Oct;303(1):36-44.

Effect of chronic administration of R-(+)-[2,3-Dihydro-5-methyl-3-[(morpholinyl)methyl]pyrrolo[1,2,3-de]-1,4-benzoxazinyl]-(1-naphthalenyl)methanone mesylate (WIN55,212-2) or delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol on cannabinoid receptor adaptation in mice.

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Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology and Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University Medical College of Virginia, Richmond, USA.


Agonist efficacy may influence the magnitude of neuroadaptation in response to chronic drug exposure. Chronic administration of either Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a partial agonist, or R-(+)-[2,3-dihydro-5-methyl-3-[(morpholinyl)methyl]pyrrolo-[1,2,3-de]-1,4-benzoxazinyl]-(1-naphthalenyl)methanone mesylate (WIN55,212-2), a full agonist, for G protein activation produces tolerance to cannabinoid-mediated behaviors. The present study examined whether chronic administration of maximally tolerated doses of Delta(9)-THC and WIN55,212-2 produces similar cannabinoid receptor desensitization and down-regulation. Mice were treated with escalating doses of agonist for 15 days, with final doses of 160 mg/kg Delta(9)-THC and 48 mg/kg WIN55,212-2. Tolerance to cannabinoid-mediated hypoactivity, hypothermia, and antinociception was found after treatment with Delta(9)-THC or WIN55,212-2. In autoradiographic studies, cannabinoid-stimulated guanosine 5'-O-(3-[(35)S]thio)triphosphate ([(35)S]GTPgammaS) binding was significantly decreased in all regions of Delta(9)-THC- and WIN55,212-2-treated brains. In addition, Delta(9)-THC-treated brains showed greater desensitization in some regions than WIN55,212-2-treated brains. Concentration-effect curves for cannabinoid-stimulated [(35)S]GTPgammaS binding confirmed that decreases in the hippocampus resulted from loss of maximal effect in both WIN55,212-2- and Delta(9)-THC-treated mice. In the substantia nigra, the E(max) decreased and the EC(50) value increased for agonist stimulation of [(35)S]GTPgammaS binding in Delta(9)-THC-treated mice. [(3)H]N-(piperidin-1-yl)-5-(4-chlorophenyl)-1-(2,4-dichlorophenyl)-4-methyl-1H-pyrazole-3-carboxamide (SR141716A) binding was decreased in all brain regions in Delta(9)-THC- and WIN55,212-2-treated mice, with no difference between treatment groups. These results demonstrate that chronic treatment with either the partial agonist Delta(9)-THC or the full agonist WIN55,212-2 produces tolerance to cannabinoid-mediated behaviors, as well as cannabinoid receptor desensitization and down-regulation. Furthermore, Delta(9)-THC produced greater desensitization than WIN55,212-2 in some regions, indicating that agonist efficacy is one determinant of cannabinoid receptor desensitization in brain.

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