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Diabetes Obes Metab. 2019 Jan;21(1):146-159. doi: 10.1111/dom.13497. Epub 2018 Sep 10.

Cannabinoid-1 receptor regulates mitochondrial dynamics and function in renal proximal tubular cells.

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Obesity and Metabolism Laboratory, Institute for Drug Research, School of Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel.



To evaluate the specific role of the endocannabinoid/cannabinoid type-1 (CB1 R) system in modulating mitochondrial dynamics in the metabolically active renal proximal tubular cells (RPTCs).


We utilized mitochondrially-targeted GFP in live cells (wild-type and null for the CB1 R) and electron microscopy in kidney sections of RPTC-CB1 R-/- mice and their littermate controls. In both in vitro and in vivo conditions, we assessed the ability of CB1 R agonism or fatty acid flux to modulate mitochondrial architecture and function.


Direct stimulation of CB1 R resulted in mitochondrial fragmentation in RPTCs. This process was mediated, at least in part, by modulating the phosphorylation levels of the canonical fission protein dynamin-related protein 1 on both S637 and S616 residues. CB1 R-induced mitochondrial fission was associated with mitochondrial dysfunction, as documented by reduced oxygen consumption and ATP production, increased reactive oxygen species and cellular lactate levels, as well as a decline in mitochondrial biogenesis. Likewise, we documented that exposure of RPTCs to a fatty acid flux induced CB1 R-dependent mitochondrial fission, lipotoxicity and cellular dysfunction.


CB1 R plays a key role in inducing mitochondrial fragmentation in RPTCs, leading to a decline in the organelle's function and contributing to the renal tubular injury associated with lipotoxicity and other metabolic diseases.


cannabinoids; cellular research; experimental pharmacology

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