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J Environ Sci (China). 2017 Jan;51:265-274. doi: 10.1016/j.jes.2016.05.031. Epub 2016 Jul 19.

Endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol protects inflammatory insults from sulfur dioxide inhalation via cannabinoid receptors in the brain.

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College of Environment and Resource, Shanxi University, Taiyuan, Shanxi 030006, China.
College of Environment and Resource, Shanxi University, Taiyuan, Shanxi 030006, China. Electronic address:


Sulfur dioxide (SO2) pollution in the atmospheric environment causes brain inflammatory insult and inflammatory-related microvasculature dysfunction. However, there are currently no effective medications targeting the harmful outcomes from chemical inhalation. Endocannabinoids (eCBs) are involved in neuronal protection against inflammation-induced neuronal injury. The 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), the most abundant eCBs and a full agonist for cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2), is also capable of suppressing proinflammatory stimuli and improving microvasculature dysfunction. Here, we indicated that endogenous 2-AG protected against neuroinflammation in response to SO2 inhalation by inhibiting the activation of microglia and astrocytes and attenuating the overexpression of inflammatory cytokines, including tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-a), interleukin (IL)-1β, and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS). In addition, endogenous 2-AG prevented cerebral vasculature dysfunction following SO2 inhalation by inhibiting endothelin 1 (ET-1), vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) and intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) expression, elevating endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) level, and restoring the imbalance between thromboxane A2 (TXA2) and prostaglandin I2 (PGI2). In addition, the action of endogenous 2-AG on the suppression of inflammatory insult and inflammatory-related microvasculature dysfunction appeared to be mainly mediated by CB1 and CB2 receptors. Our results provided a mechanistic basis for the development of new therapeutic approaches for protecting brain injuries from SO2 inhalation.


2-Arachidonoylglycerol; Cannabinoid receptors; Microvasculature dysfunction; Neuroinflammation; Sulfur dioxide

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