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Biochem J. 1996 Jun 15;316 ( Pt 3):977-84.

Biosynthesis of anandamide and related acylethanolamides in mouse J774 macrophages and N18 neuroblastoma cells.

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Istituto per la Chimica di Molecole di Interesse Biologico, C.N.R., Naples, Italy.


Anandamide (arachidonoylethanolamide, AnNH) has been recently proposed as the endogenous ligand at the brain cannabinoid receptor CB1. Two alternative pathways have been suggested for the biosynthesis of this putative mediator in the central nervous system. Here we present data (1) substantiating further the mechanism by which AnNH is produced by phospholipase D (PLD)-catalysed hydrolysis of N-arachidonoylphosphatidylethanolamine in mouse neuroblastoma N18TG2 cells, and (2) suggesting for the first time that AnNH is biosynthesized via the same mechanism in a non-neuronal cell line, mouse J774 macrophages, together with other acylethanolamides and is possibly involved in the control of the immune/inflammatory response. Lipids from both neuroblastoma cells and J774 macrophages were shown to contain a family of N-acylphosphatidylethanolamines (N-aPEs), including the possible precursor of AnNH, N-arachidonoyl-PE. Treatment with exogenous PLD, but not with exogenous phospholipase A2 and ethanolamine, resulted in the production of a series of acylethanolamides (AEs), including AnNH, from both cell types. The formation of AEs was accompanied by a decrease in the levels of the corresponding N-aPEs. Enzymically active homogenates from either neuroblastoma cells or J774 macrophages were shown to convert synthetic N-[3H]arachidonoyl-PE into [3H]AnNH, thus suggesting that in both cells an enzyme is present which is capable of catalysing the hydrolysis of N-aPE(s) to the corresponding AE(s). Finally, as previously shown in central neurons, on stimulation with ionomycin, J774 macrophages also produced a mixture of AEs including AnNH and palmitoylethanolamide, which has been proposed as the preferential endogenous ligand at the peripheral cannabinoid receptor CB2 and, consequently, as a possible down-modulator of mast cells. On the basis of this as well as previous findings it is now possible to hypothesize for AnNH and palmitoylethanolamide, co-synthesized by macrophages, a role as peripheral mediators with multiple actions on blood cell function.

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