Inhibition of forebrain μ-opioid receptor signaling by low concentrations of rimonabant does not require cannabinoid receptors and directly involves μ-opioid receptors.

Institute of Biochemistry, Biological Research Centre, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Temesvari krt. 62, H-6726 Szeged, Hungary.
Neurochemistry International (Impact Factor: 2.65). 05/2012; 61(3):378-88. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuint.2012.05.015
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Increasing number of publications shows that cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB(1)) specific compounds might act in a CB(1) independent manner, including rimonabant, a potent CB(1) receptor antagonist. Opioids, cannabinoids and their receptors are well known for their overlapping pharmacological properties. We have previously reported a prominent decrease in μ-opioid receptor (MOR) activity when animals were acutely treated with the putative endocannabinoid noladin ether (NE). In this study, we clarified whether the decreased MOR activation caused by NE could be reversed by rimonabant in CB(1) receptor deficient mice. In functional [(35)S]GTPγS binding assays, we have elucidated that 0.1mg/kg of intraperitoneal (i.p.) rimonabant treatment prior to that of NE treatment caused further attenuation on the maximal stimulation of Tyr-d-Ala-Gly-(NMe)Phe-Gly-ol (DAMGO), which is a highly specific MOR agonist. Similar inhibitory effects were observed when rimonabant was injected i.p. alone and when it was directly applied to forebrain membranes. These findings are cannabinoid receptor independent as rimonabant caused inhibition in both CB(1) single knockout and CB(1)/CB(2) double knockout mice. In radioligand competition binding assays we highlighted that rimonabant fails to displace effectively [(3)H]DAMGO from MOR in low concentrations and is highly unspecific on the receptor at high concentrations in CB(1) knockout forebrain and in their wild-type controls. Surprisingly, docking computational studies showed a favorable binding position of rimonabant to the inactive conformational state of MOR, indicating that rimonabant might behave as an antagonist at MOR. These findings were confirmed by radioligand competition binding assays in Chinese hamster ovary cells stably transfected with MOR, where a higher affinity binding site was measured in the displacement of the tritiated opioid receptor antagonist naloxone. However, based on our in vivo data we suggest that other, yet unidentified mechanisms are additionally involved in the observed effects.

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    ABSTRACT: What is known There is a growing number of evidence showing, that the cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) antagonist rimonabant has many non-cannabimimetic actions, such as affecting the opioid system. The direct effect of rimonabant on opioid receptors has been studied so far mainly on μ-opioid receptors. However recently the δ-opioid receptor (DOR) receives much more attention as before, due to its potential therapeutic applications, such as nociception or treatment for psychiatric disorders. Objectives To investigate the direct effect of rimonabant on DOR specific ligand binding and on the DOR mediated G-protein activation. Results Micromolar concentrations of rimonabant directly inhibited the DOR specific agonist binding in radioligand competition binding experiments using Chinese hamster ovary cells stably transfected with mouse DOR (CHO-mDOR). However the inhibition occurred also in the subnanomolar range during DOR specific antagonist binding in similar experimental conditions. In functional [35S]GTPγS binding assays rimonabant significantly decreased the basal receptor activity in CHO-mDOR but also in parental CHO cell membranes. During DOR agonist stimulation, micromolar concentration of rimonabant attenuated the DOR G-protein activation and the potency of the activator ligand in [35S]GTPγS binding assays performed in CHO-mDOR, in wild type and also in CB1/CB2 double knock-out mouse forebrain membranes. Yet again this inhibitory action was DOR specific, since it did not occur during other specific GPCR agonist mediated G-protein activation. Conclusion Rimonabant directly inhibited DOR function in the micromolar concentrations. The inhibitory actions indicate an antagonistic behaviour towards DOR which was established by the followings: (i) rimonabant inhibited DOR antagonist binding more effectively than agonist binding, (ii) the inverse agonistic, agonistic effect of the compound can be excluded, (iii) additionally according to previous findings the allosteric mechanism can also be foreclosed.
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