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Physiol Genomics. 2019 Mar 1;51(3):90-96. doi: 10.1152/physiolgenomics.00001.2019. Epub 2019 Feb 1.

Activation of the cannabinoid receptor 2 increases renal perfusion.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, University of Tennessee Health Science Center , Memphis, Tennessee.
Department of Physiology, University of Tennessee Health Science Center , Memphis, Tennessee.
Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology, University of South Florida College of Medicine , Tampa, Florida.


Acute kidney injury (AKI) is an increasing clinical problem that is associated with chronic kidney disease progression. Cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2) activation has been shown to mitigate some of the deleterious tubular effects due to AKI, but its role on the renal vasculature has not been fully described. In this study, we investigated the effects of our novel CB2 receptor agonist, SMM-295, on renal vasculature by assessing cortical perfusion with laser Doppler flowmetry and changes in luminal diameter with isolated afferent arterioles. In this study, intravenously infused SMM-295 (6 mg/kg) significantly increased cortical renal perfusion (13.8 ± 0.6%; P < 0.0001; n = 7) compared with vehicle (0.1 ± 1.5%; n = 10) normalized to baseline values in anesthetized C57BL/6J mice. This effect was not dependent upon activation of the CB1 receptor (met-anandamide; 6 mg/kg iv) and was predominantly abolished in Cnr2 knockout mice with SMM-295 (6 mg/kg iv). Ablation of the renal afferent nerves with capsaicin blocked the SMM-295-dependent increase in renal cortical perfusion, and the increased renal blood flow was not dependent upon products synthesized by cyclooxygenase or nitric oxide synthase. The increased renal perfusion by CB2 receptor activation is also attributed to a direct vascular effect, since SMM-295 (5 μM) engendered a significant 37 ± 7% increase ( P < 0.0001; n = 4) in luminal diameters of norepinephrine-preconstricted afferent arterioles. These data provide new insight into the potential benefit of SMM-295 by activating vascular and nonvascular CB2 receptors to promote renal vasodilation, and provide a new therapeutic target to treat renal injuries that impact renal blood flow dynamics.


CB2 receptor; SMM-295; agonist; cannabinoids; isolated afferent arterioles; renal perfusion

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