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Physiol Behav. 2007 Jul 24;91(4):383-8. Epub 2007 Apr 14.

Cannabinoid CB1 receptor inverse agonists and neutral antagonists: effects on food intake, food-reinforced behavior and food aversions.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Connecticut, 406 Babbidge Road, Storrs, CT 06269-1020, USA.


Drugs that interfere with cannabinoid CB1 receptor transmission suppress a number of food-related behaviors, and these compounds are currently being assessed for their potential utility as appetite suppressants. In addition to rimonabant (SR141716A), several other compounds have been evaluated, including AM251 and AM1387. Biochemical studies indicate that most of the drugs assessed thus far have been CB1 inverse agonists, and these drugs all act to suppress food intake and disrupt food-reinforced behavior. Behavioral tests involving intake of different diets (i.e., high fat, high carbohydrate, laboratory chow) indicate that consumption of all three food types is disrupted by CB1 inverse agonists, and that, expressed as a percent of baseline intake, the effect is roughly comparable across different diets. Although CB1 inverse agonists do not appear to produce severe motor impairments that disrupt feeding behavior, there is evidence that they can induce nausea and malaise. Recent studies have been undertaken to characterize the behavioral effects of CB1 receptor neutral antagonists such as AM4113 to determine if these drugs can reduce feeding and food-reinforced behaviors. Across a variety of different tests, AM4113 produces effects on food-motivated behavior that are very similar to those produced by CB1 inverse agonists. Moreover, this drug did not induce conditioned gaping in rats or vomiting in ferrets. These results suggest that CB1 receptor neutral antagonists may decrease appetite by blocking endogenous cannabinoid tone, and that these drugs may be less associated with nausea than is the case for CB1 inverse agonists.

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