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Life Sci. 2006 Dec 3;80(1):24-35. Epub 2006 Aug 23.

Evaluation of the role of the arachidonic acid cascade in anandamide's in vivo effects in mice.

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Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond, Virginia 23298-0613, USA.


The pharmacological profiles of the endocannabinoid anandamide and exogenous cannabinoids (e.g., Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol) are similar, but not exactly the same. One notable difference is that anandamide's in vivo effects in mice are not blocked by the brain cannabinoid (CB1) receptor antagonist SR141716A. The degree to which the rapid metabolism of anandamide to arachidonic acid might be involved in this unexpected lack of effect was the focus of this study. Mice were tested in a tetrad of tests sensitive to cannabinoids, consisting of spontaneous locomotion, ring immobility, rectal temperature and tail flick nociception. Anandamide and arachidonic acid produced a similar profile of effects, but neither drug was blocked by SR141716A. When hydrolysis of anandamide was inhibited by an amidase inhibitor (phenylmethyl sulfonyl fluoride; PMSF), however, SR141716A significantly attenuated anandamide's effects but did not completely block them. Similarly, the effects of the metabolically stable anandamide analog O-1812 were attenuated by SR141716A. The role of oxidative metabolism in anandamide's effects in the tetrad was also investigated through pharmacological modulation of cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase, two major classes of enzymes that degrade arachidonic acid. Whereas the non-selective cyclooxygenase inhibitor ibuprofen blocked the in vivo effects of arachidonic acid, it did not alter anandamide's effects. Other modulators of the cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase pathways also failed to block anandamide's effects. Together, these results offer partial support for a pharmacokinetic explanation of the failure of SR141716A to antagonize the effects of anandamide; however, they also suggest that non-CB1, non-CB2 receptors may be involved in mediation of anandamide's in vivo actions, particularly at higher doses.

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