Fear-induced suppression of nociceptive behaviour and activation of Akt signalling in the rat periaqueductal grey: Role of fatty acid amide hydrolase

Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, School of Medicine, NCBES Neuroscience Cluster and Centre for Pain Research, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland.
Journal of Psychopharmacology (Impact Factor: 3.59). 09/2011; 26(1):83-91. DOI: 10.1177/0269881111413823
Source: PubMed


The endocannabinoid system regulates nociception and aversion and mediates fear-conditioned analgesia (FCA). We investigated the effects of the fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) inhibitor URB597, which inhibits the catabolism of the endocannabinoid anandamide and related N-acylethanolamines, on expression of FCA and fear and pain related behaviour per se in rats. We also examined associated alterations in the expression of the signal transduction molecule phospho-Akt in the periaqueductal grey (PAG) by immunoblotting. FCA was modelled by assessing formalin-evoked nociceptive behaviour in an arena previously paired with footshock. URB597 (0.3 mg/kg, i.p.) enhanced FCA and increased fear-related behaviour in formalin-treated rats. Conditioned fear per se in non-formalin-treated rats was associated with increased expression of phospho-Akt in the PAG. URB597 reduced the expression of fear-related behaviour in the early part of the trial, an effect that was accompanied by attenuation of the fear-induced increase in phospho-Akt expression in the PAG. Intra-plantar injection of formalin also reduced the fear-induced increase in phospho-Akt expression. These data provide evidence for a role of FAAH in FCA, fear responding in the presence or absence of nociceptive tone, and fear-evoked increases in PAG phospho-Akt expression. In addition, the results suggest that fear-evoked activation of Akt signalling in the PAG is abolished in the presence of nociceptive tone.

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    • "Systemic or intra-BLA administration of rimonabant have also been demonstrated to attenuate the suppression of nociceptive behaviour elicited by exposure of rats to unconditioned foot shock stress [10] [36]. Moreover , we have previously demonstrated that pharmacological inhibition of the AEA-degrading enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) significantly enhances FCA via a CB 1 receptor-dependent mechanism [6] [7]. "
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    ABSTRACT: The basolateral amygdala (BLA) is a key substrate facilitating the expression of fear-conditioned analgesia (FCA). However, the neurochemical mechanisms in the BLA which mediate this potent suppression of pain responding during fear remain unknown. The present study investigated the role of cannabinoid(1) (CB(1)) receptors and interactions with GABAergic (GABA(A) receptor) and glutamatergic (metabotropic glutamate receptor type 5; mGluR5) signalling in the BLA in formalin-evoked nociceptive behaviour and FCA in rats. Reexposure to a context previously paired with foot shock significantly reduced formalin-evoked nociceptive behaviour. Systemic or intra-BLA microinjection of the CB(1) receptor antagonist/inverse agonist AM251 prevented this expression of FCA, while injection of AM251 into the central nucleus of the amygdala did not. The suppression of FCA by systemic AM251 administration was partially attenuated by intra-BLA administration of either the GABA(A) receptor antagonist bicuculline or the mGluR5 antagonist 2-methyl-6-(phenylethynyl) pyridine, (MPEP). Bilateral microinjection of MPEP, but not bicuculline, alone into the BLA enhanced formalin-evoked nociceptive behaviour. Postmortem analyses revealed that FCA was associated with a significant increase in tissue levels of anandamide in the BLA side contralateral to intraplantar formalin injection. In addition, fear-conditioned rats exhibited a robust formalin-induced increase in levels of 2-arachidonyl glycerol and N-palmitoylethanolamide in the ipsilateral and contralateral BLA, respectively. These data suggest that CB(1) receptors in the BLA facilitate the expression of FCA, through a mechanism which is likely to involve the modulation of GABAergic and glutamatergic signalling.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2012 · Pain
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    • "Brains from the young and aged, vehicle or URB597 treated rats were removed rapidly and the cerebellum was gross-dissected (average weight of tissue samples = 158.26 mg), snap-frozen on dry ice and stored at -800 C prior to extraction and determination of the concentrations of the endocannabinoids anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG) and the related N-acylethanolamines N-palmitoyl ethanolamide (PEA) and N-oleoyl ethanolamide (OEA) by liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) as described previously [29,30]. Each tissue sample was first homogenized in 400 μL 100% acetonitrile containing known fixed amounts of deuterated internal standards (0.014 nmol AEA-d8, 0.48 nmol 2-AG-d8, 0.016 nmol PEA-d4, 0.015 nmol OEA-d2). "
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    ABSTRACT: Several factors contribute to the deterioration in synaptic plasticity which accompanies age and one of these is neuroinflammation. This is characterized by increased microglial activation associated with increased production of proinflammatory cytokines like interleukin-1β (IL-1β). In aged rats these neuroinflammatory changes are associated with a decreased ability of animals to sustain long-term potentiation (LTP) in the dentate gyrus. Importantly, treatment of aged rats with agents which possess anti-inflammatory properties to decrease microglial activation, improves LTP. It is known that endocannabinoids, such as anandamide (AEA), have anti-inflammatory properties and therefore have the potential to decrease the age-related microglial activation. However, endocannabinoids are extremely labile and are hydrolyzed quickly after production. Here we investigated the possibility that inhibiting the degradation of endocannabinoids with the fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) inhibitor, URB597, could ameliorate age-related increases in microglial activation and the associated decrease in LTP. Young and aged rats received subcutaneous injections of the FAAH inhibitor URB597 every second day and controls which received subcutaneous injections of 30% DMSO-saline every second day for 28 days. Long-term potentiation was recorded on day 28 and the animals were sacrificed. Brain tissue was analyzed for markers of microglial activation by PCR and for levels of endocannabinoids by liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry. The data indicate that expression of markers of microglial activation, MHCII, and CD68 mRNA, were increased in the hippocampus of aged, compared with young, rats and that these changes were associated with increased expression of the proinflammatory cytokines interleukin (IL)-1β and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα) which were attenuated by treatment with URB597. Coupled with these changes, we observed an age-related decrease in LTP in the dentate gyrus which was partially restored in URB597-treated aged rats. The data suggest that enhancement of levels of endocannabinoids in the brain by URB597 has beneficial effects on synaptic function, perhaps by modulating microglial activation.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2012 · Journal of Neuroinflammation
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    • "Quantitation of endocannabinoids and N-acylethanolamines was essentially as described previously with minor modifications [10]. Frozen coronal brain sections (300 μm) containing the vHip from vehicletreated rats (i.e. "
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    ABSTRACT: The endogenous cannabinoid (endocannabinoid) system plays an important role in fear-conditioned analgesia (FCA) and expression and extinction of conditioned fear. The hippocampus has an established role in both pain and conditioned fear and is a substrate for endocannabinoid activity. This study aimed to investigate the role of the endocannabinoid system in the ventral hippocampus (vHip) in FCA and in fear responding in the presence of nociceptive tone. Fear-conditioned rats displayed significantly increased freezing and 22-kHz ultrasonic vocalisation and a reduction in formalin-evoked nociceptive behaviour (ie, FCA) upon re-exposure to a context previously paired with footshock. Tissue levels of the endocannabinoids, anandamide, and 2-arachidonoylglycerol, as well as the fatty acid amide, palmitoylethanolamide, were significantly higher in the vHip of fear-conditioned rats compared with non-fear-conditioned controls. URB597 (inhibitor of fatty acid amide hydrolase [FAAH]), administered bilaterally into the vHip, significantly enhanced FCA during the entire trial and increased fear responding in formalin-treated rats early in the trial. The URB597-induced enhancement of FCA was blocked by intra-vHip administration of the cannabinoid(1) (CB(1)) receptor antagonist/inverse agonist rimonabant. Intra-vHip rimonabant alone had no effect on the expression of FCA, and URB597 did not significantly alter formalin-evoked nociceptive behaviour in non-fear-conditioned rats. These data suggest an important role for the endocannabinoid system in the vHip in FCA, whereby levels of 2-arachidonoylglycerol and the FAAH substrates palmitoylethanolamide and anandamide are increased in rats expressing FCA, and pharmacological inhibition of FAAH in the vHip enhances this form of endogenous analgesia via a CB(1) receptor-dependent mechanism.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2011 · Pain
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