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Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2019 Sep 23;4(3):165-176. doi: 10.1089/can.2019.0016. eCollection 2019.

Absence of Entourage: Terpenoids Commonly Found in Cannabis sativa Do Not Modulate the Functional Activity of Δ9-THC at Human CB1 and CB2 Receptors.

Author information

1
Department of Biomedical Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
2
The Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
3
Discipline of Pharmacology, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
4
School of Psychology, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

Abstract

Introduction: Compounds present in Cannabis sativa such as phytocannabinoids and terpenoids may act in concert to elicit therapeutic effects. Cannabinoids such as Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) directly activate cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2); however, it is not known if terpenoids present in Cannabis also affect cannabinoid receptor signaling. Therefore, we examined six common terpenoids alone, and in combination with cannabinoid receptor agonists, on CB1 and CB2 signaling in vitro. Materials and Methods: Potassium channel activity in AtT20 FlpIn cells transfected with human CB1 or CB2 receptors was measured in real time using FLIPR® membrane potential dye in a FlexStation 3 plate reader. Terpenoids were tested individually and in combination for periods up to 30 min. Endogenous somatostatin receptors served as a control for direct effects of drugs on potassium channels. Results: α-Pinene, β-pinene, β-caryophyllene, linalool, limonene, and β-myrcene (up to 30-100 μM) did not change membrane potential in AtT20 cells expressing CB1 or CB2, or affect the response to a maximally effective concentration of the synthetic cannabinoid CP55,940. The presence of individual or a combination of terpenoids did not affect the hyperpolarization produced by Δ9-THC (10 μM): (CB1: control, 59%±7%; with terpenoids (10 μM each) 55%±4%; CB2: Δ9-THC 16%±5%, with terpenoids (10 μM each) 17%±4%). To investigate possible effect on desensitization of CB1 responses, all six terpenoids were added together with Δ9-THC and signaling measured continuously over 30 min. Terpenoids did not affect desensitization, after 30 min the control hyperpolarization recovered by 63%±6% in the presence of the terpenoids recovery was 61%±5%. Discussion: None of the six of the most common terpenoids in Cannabis directly activated CB1 or CB2, or modulated the signaling of the phytocannabinoid agonist Δ9-THC. These results suggest that if a phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effect exists, it is not at the CB1 or CB2 receptor level. It remains possible that terpenoids activate CB1 and CB2 signaling pathways that do not involve potassium channels; however, it seems more likely that they may act at different molecular target(s) in the neuronal circuits important for the behavioral effect of Cannabis.

KEYWORDS:

THC; cannabinoid receptor; entourage effect; phytocannabinoid; signaling; terpenoid

Conflict of interest statement

M.S., S.S., and M.C. have no competing financial interests to disclose. I.S.M. currently acts as a consultant to Kinoxis Therapeutics. J.C.A. has acted as a consultant to the World Health Organization in the last 12 months in its review of cannabis and the cannabinoids. I.S.M. and J.C.A. are inventors on several patents involving cannabinoid therapeutics.

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