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Neuropharmacology. 2008 Jan;54(1):16-22. Epub 2007 Jun 2.

Microglia produce and hydrolyze palmitoylethanolamide.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-7280, USA.


Microglial cell activation and migration play an important role in neuroinflammation propagation. While it is known that the lipid transmitter palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) regulates microglial migration by interacting with a cannabinoid-like receptor, the production and inactivation of this lipid by microglia has never been addressed directly. Here we show that the mouse microglial cell line BV-2 produces and hydrolyzes PEA. The carbamate compound URB602 inhibits PEA hydrolysis in BV-2 cell homogenates and increases PEA levels in intact cells, whereas the FAAH inhibitor URB597 and serine-hydrolase inhibitor MAFP do not affect PEA levels in intact cells. This unique pharmacological profile of inhibitors on PEA hydrolysis suggests the involvement of a previously undescribed enzyme that degrades PEA. This enzyme expressed by microglia constitutes a promising target for controlling the propagation of neuroinflammation.

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