Article

The rat pineal gland comprises an endocannabinoid system

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Abstract

In the mammalian pineal gland, the rhythm in melatonin biosynthesis depends on the norepinephrine (NE)-driven regulation of arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase (AANAT), the penultimate enzyme of melatonin biosynthesis. A recent study showed that phytocannabinoids like tetrahydrocannabinol reduce AANAT activity and attenuate NE-induced melatonin biosynthesis in rat pineal glands, raising the possibility that an endocannabinoid system is present in the pineal gland. To test this hypothesis, we analyzed cannabinoid (CB) receptors and specific enzymes for endocannabinoid biosynthesis or catabolism in rat pineal glands and cultured pinealocytes. Immunohistochemical and immunoblot analyses revealed the presence of CB1 and CB2 receptor proteins, of N-acyl phosphatidyl ethanolamine hydrolyzing phospholipase D (NAPE-PLD), an enzyme catalyzing endocannabinoid biosynthesis and of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), an endocannabinoid catabolizing enzyme, in pinealocytes, and in pineal sympathetic nerve fibers identified by double immunofluorescence with an antibody against tyrosine hydroxylase. The immunosignals for the CB2 receptor, NAPE-PLD, and FAAH found in pinealocytes did not vary under a 12 hr light:12 hr dark cycle. The CB1 receptor immunoreaction in pinealocytes was significantly reduced at the end of the light phase [zeitgeber time (ZT) 12]. The immunosignal for NAPE-PLD found in pineal sympathetic nerve fibers was reduced in the middle of the dark phase (ZT 18). Stimulation of cultured pinealocytes with NE affected neither the subcellular distribution nor the intensity of the immunosignals for the investigated CB receptors and enzymes. In summary, the pineal gland comprises indispensable compounds of the endocannabinoid system indicating that endocannabinoids may be involved in the control of pineal physiology.

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... We found earlier that plant-derived cannabinoids such as tetrahydrocannabinol are able to attenuate norepinephrine-(NE-) induced melatonin biosynthesis in cultured pineal glands by inhibiting arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase (AANAT) (Koch et al., 2006), the penultimate enzyme of nocturnal melatonin biosynthesis (Klein, 2007). Moreover, we found cannabinoid receptors and enzymes for endocannabinoid biosynthesis and degradation in the pineal gland and showed that the protein levels of the cannabinoid type 1 receptor (CB 1 R) varied with time, with the lowest protein amount observed at the onset of darkness (ZT12) (Koch et al., 2008). Since the presence of CB 1 R as well as demonstration of enzymes for endocannabinoid biosynthesis and degradation within the pineal gland suggests a functional role for the ECS as an autocrine and/or paracrine modulatory system for pineal physiology, we here analyzed whether (1) endocannabinoids are detectable within the rat pineal gland, (2) pineal endocannabinoid levels change with time and (3) NE, the essential stimulus for nocturnal melatonin biosynthesis influences pineal endocannabinoid levels. ...
... Thus, the application of plantderived cannabinoids attenuated NE-induced melatonin biosynthesis by inhibition of its penultimate enzyme AANAT (Klein, 2007;Koch et al., 2006). Moreover, we showed that enzymes for endocannabinoid biosynthesis and degradation as well as CB 1 R are present in the rat pineal gland (Koch et al., 2008). To further analyze the intrapineal ECS we here determined temporal dynamics of the levels of AEA, PEA and 2-AG in rat pineal glands that were either dissected ex vivo or kept in vitro. ...
... Thus, the inhibitory effects of NE may be achieved either by acute inhibition of endocannabinoid synthesis or by acute activation of endocannabinoid degradation. However, it is unlikely that NE affects the protein levels of the respective enzymes since the protein amount and the subcellular distribution of NAPE-PLD, the enzyme involved in AEA biosynthesis, and of FAAH, the enzyme involved in AEA degradation did not show diurnal changes and remained constant upon NE stimulation in vitro (Koch et al., 2008). Thus, the down-regulation of AEA observed here at the onset of darkness could be explained by changes in enzymatic activity of these enzymes which are unrelated to changes in their protein amount. ...
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Endocannabinoids modulate neuroendocrine networks by directly targeting cannabinoid receptors. The time-hormone melatonin synchronizes these networks with external light condition and guarantees time-sensitive and ecologically well-adapted behaviors. Here, the endocannabinoid arachidonoyl ethanolamide (AEA) showed rhythmic changes in rat pineal glands with higher levels during the light-period and reduced amounts at the onset of darkness. Norepinephrine, the essential stimulus for nocturnal melatonin biosynthesis, acutely down-regulated AEA and other endocannabinoids in cultured pineal glands. These temporal dynamics suggest that AEA exerts time-dependent autocrine and/or paracrine functions within the pineal. Moreover, endocananbinoids may be released from the pineal into the CSF or blood stream.
... While the CNS presence of CB2-Rs may no longer be a debate, the neurobiological basis for CB2-R physiological activity and its interaction with or without CB1-Rs remains to be determined. However, functional interactions Baek et al., 2008 Brainstem nuclei Vestibular and cochlear nuclei Gong et al., 2006; Suarez et al., 2008 Parvocellular reticular nucleus, spinal trigeminal tract nucleus Gong et al., 2006 Dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus, nucleus ambiguous and spinal trigeminal nucleus Neurons Van Sickle et al., 2005 Pineal gland Pinealocytes and intrapineal nerve fibers Koch et al., 2008 Retina (CB2-R mRNA) Inner photoreceptor segments, inner nuclear layer, ganglion cell layer. Lu et al., 2000 Retina (CB2-R protein) Inner photoreceptor segments, inner nuclear layer, inner plexiform layer, ganglion cell layer Lopez et al., 2010 Onaivi et al. 7 between forebrain CB2-R and mu-opioid receptor (MOR) was demonstrated (Paldyova et al., 2008 ) and CB2-R antagonist SR144528 was reported to decrease MOR expression and activation in mouse brain stem (Paldy et al., 2008). ...
... Lu et al., 2000 Retina (CB2-R protein) Inner photoreceptor segments, inner nuclear layer, inner plexiform layer, ganglion cell layer Lopez et al., 2010 Onaivi et al. 7 between forebrain CB2-R and mu-opioid receptor (MOR) was demonstrated (Paldyova et al., 2008 ) and CB2-R antagonist SR144528 was reported to decrease MOR expression and activation in mouse brain stem (Paldy et al., 2008). CB2-Rs in the pineal gland along with other components of the ECS may be involved in the control of pineal physiology (Koch et al., 2008). Gender-dependent changes on the expression of hippocampal CB1 and CB2-Rs were demonstrated in the early maternal deprivation model in neonatal rats (Suarez et al., 2008). ...
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... CRF IR was detected with Alexa-Fluor-568 goat anti-rabbit IgG (diluted 1:500; Invitrogen) and laminin IR was visualized with Alexa-Fluor 647 goat-anti-rat IgG (diluted 1:250; Invitrogen). The specificity of the antibodies had been established in previous studies (Ferreira et al. 2012;Kallendrusch et al. 2012;Koch et al. 2008;Uchigashima et al. 2007;Yasuo et al. 2010aYasuo et al. , 2010bYoshida et al. 2011;Zhang et al. 1999). The preparations were coverslipped with Dako fluorescent mounting medium (DakoDiagnostika, Hamburg, Germany) and analyzed with a Zeiss LSM 510 confocal laser scanning microscope (Zeiss, Hallbergmoos, Germany). ...
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... CB2Rs have also been shown to subserve differential physiological roles in other neuroanatomical sites such as the brain stem, cortex, cerebellum, periaqueductal gray (PAG), substantia nigra, hippocampus, thalamus, pineal gland, and pinealocytes (Golech et al., 2004; Nunez et al., 2004; Van Sickle et al., 2005; Gong et al., 2006; Suarez et al., 2008 Suarez et al., , 2009). CB2Rs in the pineal gland along with other components of the ECS may be involved in the control of pineal physiology (Koch et al., 2008). Gender-dependent changes in the expression of hippocampal CB1Rs and CB2Rs were demonstrated in the early maternal deprivation model in neonatal rats (Suarez et al., 2009 ). ...
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... ECS components are present in the pineal (Koch et al., 2008), a brain region that receives multi-synaptic relays originating in the SCN, and synthesizes and releases melatonin. Within the pineal gland, CB1 receptors are present in both pinealocytes and on the terminals of sympathetic afferents to the gland. ...
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... As a further suggestion of presynaptic control of norepinephrine-mediated melatonin activity, Koch and coworkers recently demonstrated that phytocannabinoids (e.g., tetrahydrocannabinol) application to rat pineal gland cultures may reduce stimulation of melatonin secretion by norepinephrine[64]. Further studies by the same group recognized endocannabinoid receptors and metabolizing enzymes in pinealocytes, thereby demonstrating a possible endocannabinoid-dependent control of norepinephrine-stimulated melatonin secretion[65]. Conversely, some hormones, such as insulin, may enhance norepinephrine-mediated melatonin synthesis and AANAT activity[66]. ...
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... CB2-Rs have also been shown sub-serving differential physiological roles in other neuroanatomical sites such as the brain stem, cortex, cerebellum, PAG, substantia nigra, hippocampus, thalamus, pineal gland and pinealocytes [7,8,[24][25][26][27]. CB2-Rs in the pineal gland along with other components of the ECS may be involved in the control of pineal physiology [28]. Gender-dependent changes on the expression of hippocampal CB1 and CB2-Rs were demonstrated in the early maternal deprivation model in neonatal rats [27]. ...
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... It has been suggested that the seasonal changes in the seizure threshold might be explained by the seasonal alteration of the pineal production of melatonin (Löscher and Lehmann, 1996) which could modulate seizure threshold (Lapin et al., 1998). On the other hand, some studies have indicated that endocannabinoids could be involved in the control of pineal physiology and thereby melatonin secretion (Koch et al., 2008;Lisson et al., 1986). Therefore, the issue that whether cannabinoids can modulate the PTZ-induced seizure threshold at different times possibly via alteration in melatonin production would be a topic of interest in the future studies. ...
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Depolarization of cerebellar Purkinje neurons transiently suppresses IPSCs through a process known as depolarization-induced suppression of inhibition (DSI). This IPSC suppression occurs presynaptically and results from an unknown retrograde signal released from Purkinje cells. We recorded IPSCs from voltage-clamped Purkinje cells in cerebellar brain slices to identify the retrograde signal for cerebellar DSI. We find that DSI persists in the presence of the broad-spectrum metabotropic glutamate receptor antagonist LY341495 and the GABA(B) receptor antagonist CGP55845, suggesting that the retrograde signal is not acting through these receptors. However, an antagonist of the cannabinoid CB1 receptor AM251 completely blocked cerebellar DSI. Additionally, the cannabinoid receptor agonist WIN55,212-2 suppressed IPSCs and occluded any additional IPSC reduction by DSI. These results indicate that cannabinoids released from Purkinje cells after depolarization activate CB1 receptors on inhibitory neurons and suppress IPSCs for tens of seconds. Cerebellar DSI thus shares a common retrograde messenger with DSI in the hippocampus and depolarization-induced suppression of excitation in the cerebellum, suggesting that retrograde synaptic suppression by endogenous cannabinoids represents a widespread signaling mechanism.
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A protein determination method which involves the binding of Coomassie Brilliant Blue G-250 to protein is described. The binding of the dye to protein causes a shift in the absorption maximum of the dye from 465 to 595 nm, and it is the increase in absorption at 595 nm which is monitored. This assay is very reproducible and rapid with the dye binding process virtually complete in approximately 2 min with good color stability for 1 hr. There is little or no interference from cations such as sodium or potassium nor from carbohydrates such as sucrose. A small amount of color is developed in the presence of strongly alkaline buffering agents, but the assay may be run accurately by the use of proper buffer controls. The only components found to give excessive interfering color in the assay are relatively large amounts of detergents such as sodium dodecyl sulfate, Triton X-100, and commercial glassware detergents. Interference by small amounts of detergent may be eliminated by the use of proper controls.
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Immunohistochemical distribution of cannabinoid receptors in the adult rat brain was studied using specific purified antibodies against the amino-terminus of the CB1 receptor. Our results generally agree well with the previous studies using CB1 receptor autoradiography and messenger RNA in situ hybridization. However, because of its greater resolution, immunohistochemistry allowed identification of particular neuronal cells and fibers that possess cannabinoid receptors. CB1-like immunoreactivity was found in axons, cell bodies and dendrites, where it appeared as puncta in somata and processes. Both intensely and moderately or lightly stained neurons were observed. The intensely stained neurons were dispersed and only occur in cortical structures including hippocampal formation and olfactory bulb. Moderately or lightly stained neurons were found in caudate-putamen and amygdala. In the hippocampal formation only intensely stained neurons were observed. The cell bodies of pyramidal neurons in CA1 and CA3 fields appeared to be unstained but surrounded by a dense plexus of immunoreactive fibers. The granule cells in the dentate area were also immunonegative. Many intensely stained neurons were located at the base of the granule cell layer. CB1-like immunoreactive neurons and fibers were also found in the somatosensory, cingulate, perirhinal, entorhinal and piriform cortices, in claustrum, amygdaloid nuclei, nucleus accumbens and septum. Beaded immunoreactive fibers were detected in periaqueductal gray, nucleus tractus solitarius, spinal trigeminal tract and nucleus, dorsal horn and lamina X of the spinal cord. A triangular cap-like mass of immunoreactivity was found to surround the basal part of the Purkinje cell body in the cerebellum. Only small, lightly stained cells were found in the molecular layer in the cerebellum close to the Purkinje cell layer. The CB1 receptor is widely distributed in the forebrain and has a more restricted distribution in the hindbrain and the spinal cord. It appears to be expressed on cell bodies, dendrites and axons. According to the location and morphology, many, but not all, CB1-like immunoreactive neurons appear to be GABAergic. Therefore, cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors may play a role in modulating GABAergic neurons.
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The CB1-type cannabinoid receptor mediates physiologic effects of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient of the drug marijuana. In this report, the authors analyse the expression of CB1 in the rat brain by using antibodies to the C-terminal 13 amino acids of the receptor. Western blot analysis of rat brain membranes revealed a prominent immunoreactive band with a molecular mass (≈53 kDa) consistent with that predicted for CB1 from the rat cDNA sequence. In addition, however, less intense immunoreactive bands corresponding to glycosylated (≈62 kDa) and putative N-terminally shorter (≈45 kDa) isoforms of CB1 were detected. The distribution of CB1-immunoreactivity in rat brain was similar to the distribution of binding sites for radiolabelled cannabinoids, with high levels of expression in the olfactory system, the hippocampal formation, the basal ganglia, the cerebellum, and the neocortex. This provides important evidence that CB1 is likely to be largely responsible for mediating effects of cannabinoids in the brain. CB1 immunoreactivity was associated with nerve fibre systems and axon terminals but was not detected in neuronal somata. This is consistent with the presynaptic inhibitory effects of cannabinoids on neurotransmitter release in the brain. Detailed immunocytochemical analysis of anatomically or functionally related regions of the brain revealed the location of CB1 receptors within identified neural circuits. Determination of the cellular and subcellular location of CB1 within known neuronal circuits of the brain provides an anatomic framework for interpretation of the neurophysiologic and behavioural effects of cannabinoids. J. Comp. Neurol. 422:159–171, 2000.
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Formation of the pineal gland hormone melatonin increases markedly at night in response to light-dark environmental alterations. Melatonin is synthesized from serotonin by an initial N-acetylation followed by methylation of the 5-hydroxy moiety by hydroxyindole-O-methyltransferase. Serotonin N-acetyltransferase (NAT; EC2.3.1.87), which catalyses the first reaction, is the rate-limiting enzyme in this process, and its activity increases dramatically with the onset of darkness. Because melatonin may play important biological roles in reproduction, ageing and sleep, understanding the molecular factors that regulate NAT is of particular importance. To identify proteins that regulate light-dark variations in pineal function, we used a subtractive hybridization technique based on the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to isolate rat pineal gland messages that are differentially expressed by day and night. Here we report the molecular cloning of NAT and dramatic diurnal variations in its transcription. Independently, Klein and associates have cloned NAT from sheep pineal glands.
Article
A protein determination method which involves the binding of Coomassie Brilliant Blue G-250 to protein is described. The binding of the dye to protein causes a shift in the absorption maximum of the dye from 465 to 595 nm, and it is the increase in absorption at 595 nm which is monitored. This assay is very reproducible and rapid with the dye binding process virtually complete in approximately 2 min with good color stability for 1 hr. There is little or no interference from cations such as sodium or potassium nor from carbohydrates such as sucrose. A small amount of color is developed in the presence of strongly alkaline buffering agents, but the assay may be run accurately by the use of proper buffer controls. The only components found to give excessive interfering color in the assay are relatively large amounts of detergents such as sodium dodecyl sulfate, Triton X-100, and commercial glassware detergents. Interference by small amounts of detergent may be eliminated by the use of proper controls.
Article
The adrenergic control of cAMP and 3',5'-cyclic GMP (cGMP) in dispersed adult rat pinealocytes was investigated. Norepinephrine treatment increased cAMP and cGMP content 60- and 400-fold, respectively; both alpha- and beta-adrenoceptors had to be activated for these responses to occur. Beta-Adrenergic stimulation alone produced only about 6- and 2-fold increase in cAMP and cGMP content, respectively. Alpha-Adrenergic stimulation, which alone had no effect on either cyclic nucleotide concentration, markedly amplified the beta-adrenergic stimulation of both cAMP and cGMP. The relative potency of alpha-adrenergic agonists and antagonists indicates the alpha 1-subclass of adrenoceptors is involved. A role of alpha 1-adrenoceptors in the control of pineal cAMP is consistent with published evidence of the presence of alpha 1-adrenoceptors on pinealocytes and their role in the regulation of N-acetyltransferase activity and melatonin production.
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In organ cultures of intact rat pineal glands, N(6)O(2')-dibutyryl adenosine 3', 5'-monophosphate stimulates the conversion of tritiated trytophan to tritiated melatonin, as does L-norepinephrine. Potential sites of stimulation of melatonin production by dibutyryl cyclic adenosine monophosphate are discussed, based on observations that the dibutyryl analog also stimulates the conversion of serotonin labeled with carbon-14 to carbon-14-labeled melatonin without altering hydroxyin-dole-O-methyl transferase activity or intracellular accumulation of serotonin labeled with carbon-14.
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Calcium responses of isolated rat pineal cells to noradrenergic, cholinergic and vasopressinergic stimulations were recorded by use of the fura-2 technique and an image analysis system. Subsequently the recorded cells were identified as pinealocytes by immunocytochemical demonstration of S-antigen, a pinealocyte-specific marker. S-antigen immunoreactive pinealocytes were shown to respond to norepinephrine stimulation with an elevation of the intracellular free calcium concentration ([Ca2+]i). This response was dose-dependent and consisted of a rapid increase in [Ca2+]i (primary phase) followed by a decrease to an elevated plateau well above the basal level (secondary phase). The plateau persisted for at least 1 h when cells were constantly exposed to norepinephrine and dropped to basal level upon removal of the stimulus. Analysis of the calcium responses of cells treated with caffeine or thapsigargin suggested that the primary phase reflects mobilization of calcium from inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate-sensitive intracellular calcium stores. Depletion of these calcium stores was a decisive and sufficient prerequisite to evoke the secondary phase which was apparently elicited by calcium influx. These data suggest that a capacitative calcium entry is involved in pineal calcium signalling. Acetylcholine induced an increase in [Ca2+]i in rat pinealocytes. Experiments with different cholinergic agonists and antagonists provided evidence that the acetylcholine-induced calcium response was mediated via nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. Stimulation of isolated rat pineal cells with arginine-vasopressin caused a rise in [Ca2+]i in approx. 5% of the cells. However, these cells remained unidentified because they contained neither immunoreactive S-antigen nor immunoreactive glial fibrillary acidic protein, a marker for interstitial (glial) cells of the rat pineal organ. Taken together, the results underline the pivotal role of norepinephrine for the regulation of pineal signal transduction, but they also support the notion that other neurotransmitters and neuropeptides are involved in the modulation of pineal calcium signalling.
Article
Norepinephrine (NE) regulates melatonin production and many other aspects of pineal function through actions involving cAMP. In the present study the effects of NE on the phosphorylation of the cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) were studied to determine whether CREB phosphorylation might be involved in cAMP signal transduction in this tissue. CREB was detected using gel mobility-shift analysis with the radiolabeled Ca2+/cAMP response element of the c-fos promoter. CREB phosphorylation was estimated in the gel mobility-shift assay using an antiserum specific for phosphorylated CREB. This antiserum generates a supershifted CREB signal with protein extracts obtained from glands treated with NE (EC50 approximately equal to 10 nM) in organ culture, demonstrating that NE stimulates CREB phosphorylation. CREB phosphorylation peaks 30-45 min after NE treatment is initiated and then gradually returns to base-line values. Pharmacological studies show that NE-stimulated CREB phosphorylation is mediated primarily through beta 1-adrenergic receptor-stimulated increases in cAMP. Activation of alpha 1-adrenergic receptors, which is known to elevate the intracellular free Ca2+ concentration, does not cause CREB phosphorylation. However, it is possible to produce CREB phosphorylation with certain pharmacological agents that elevate the intracellular free Ca2+ concentration. In vivo studies show that CREB phosphorylation can be induced by treatment with isoproterenol (1 mg/kg), demonstrating that phosphorylation of pineal CREB occurs in intact animals. These studies indicate that cAMP-dependent CREB phosphorylation could play a role in the adrenergic regulation of gene expression in pinealocytes.
Article
Transcription factor CREM appears to play a key physiological and developmental role within the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis. This axis is modulated by the pineal hormone melatonin, whose production is in turn driven by the endogenous clock. There is striking circadian fluctuation of a novel CREM isoform, ICER, which is expressed at high levels during the night. ICER is generated from an alternative, intronic promoter and functions as a powerful repressor of cyclic AMP-induced transcription. Rhythmic adrenergic signals originated by the clock direct ICER expression by stimulation of the cAMP signal transduction pathway.
Article
1. Activation of CB1 receptors by plant cannabinoids or the endogenous ligand, anandamide, causes hypotension via a sympathoinhibitory action in anaesthetized rats. In mouse isolated vas deferens, activation of CB1 receptors inhibits the electrically evoked twitch response. To determine if these effects are related to presynaptic inhibition of noradrenaline (NA) release, we examined the effects of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta 9-THC), anandamide and the CB1 antagonist, SR141716A, on exocytotic NA release in rat isolated atria and vasa deferentia. 2. In isolated atria and vasa deferentia preloaded with [3H]-NA, electrical field stimulation caused [3H]-NA release, which was abolished by tetrodotoxin 0.5 microM and concentration-dependently inhibited by delta 9-THC or anandamide, 0.3-10 microM. The inhibitory effect of delta 9-THC and anandamide was competitively antagonized by SR 141716A, 1-10 microM. 3. Tyramine, 1 microM, also induced [3H]-NA release, which was unaffected by tetrodotoxin, delta 9-THC or anandamide in either atria or vasa deferentia. 4. CB1 receptor mRNA is present in the superior cervical ganglion, as well as in whole brain, cerebellum, hypothalamus, spleen, and vas deferens and absent in medulla oblongata and atria, as demonstrated by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. There was no evidence of the presence of CB1A receptor mRNA in ganglia, brain, or cerebellum. These results suggest that activation of presynaptic CB1 receptors located on peripheral sympathetic nerve terminals mediate sympathoinhibitory effects in vitro and in vivo.
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Anandamide (N-arachidonoylethanolamine) is an endogenous ligand for both the brain-type (CB1-R) and spleen-type (CB2-R) cannabinoid receptors. This investigation demonstrates that the periimplantation mouse uterus contains the highest levels of anandamide (142-1345 pmol/micromol lipid P; 1-7 microg/g wet weight) yet discovered in a mammalian tissue. The levels fluctuate with the state of pregnancy; down-regulation of anandamide levels is associated with uterine receptivity, while up-regulation is correlated with uterine refractoriness to embryo implantation. Anandamide levels are highest during the nonreceptive phase in the pseudopregnant uterus and in the interimplantation sites, and lowest at the site of embryo implantation. The lower levels of uterine anandamide at the implantation sites may be a mechanism by which implanting embryos protect themselves from the detrimental effects of this endogenous ligand. We also observed a reduced rate of zona-hatching of blastocysts in vitro in the presence of anandamide, and inhibition of implantation by systemic administration of a synthetic cannabinoid agonist CP 55,940. These adverse effects were reversed by SR141716A, a specific CB1-R antagonist. Taken together, the results suggest that an aberrant synthesis of anandamide and/or expression of the cannabinoid receptors in the uterus/embryo may account for early pregnancy failure or female infertility.
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N-Arachidonoylethanolamine (anandamide, AEA) is a putative endogenous ligand of the cannabinoid receptor. Intact cerebellar granule neurons in primary culture rapidly accumulate AEA. [3H]AEA accumulation by cerebellar granule cells is dependent on incubation time (t(1/2) of 2.6 +/- 0.8 min at 37 degrees C) and temperature. The accumulation of AEA is saturable and has an apparent Km of 41 +/- 15 microM and a Vmax of 0.61 +/- 0.04 nmol/min/10(6) cells. [3H]AEA accumulation by cerebellar granule cells is significantly reduced by 200 microM phloretin (57.4 +/- 4% of control) in a noncompetitive manner. [3H]AEA accumulation is not inhibited by either ouabain or removal of extracellular sodium. [3H]AEA accumulation is fairly selective for AEA among other naturally occurring N-acylethanolamines; only N-oleoylethanolamine significantly inhibited [3H]AEA accumulation at a concentration of 10 microM. The ethanolamides of palmitic acid and linolenic acid were inactive at 10 microM. N-Arachidonoylbenzylamine and N-arachidonoylpropylamine, but not arachidonic acid, 15-hydroxy-AEA, or 12-hydroxy-AEA, compete for AEA accumulation. When cells are preloaded with [3H]AEA, temperature-dependent efflux occurs with a half-life of 1.9 +/- 1.0 min. Phloretin does not inhibit [3H]AEA efflux from cells. These results suggest that AEA is accumulated by cerebellar granule cells by a protein-mediated transport process that has the characteristics of facilitated diffusion.
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Immunohistochemical distribution of cannabinoid receptors in the adult rat brain was studied using specific purified antibodies against the amino-terminus of the CB1 receptor. Our results generally agree well with the previous studies using CB1 receptor autoradiography and messenger RNA in situ hybridization. However, because of its greater resolution, immunohistochemistry allowed identification of particular neuronal cells and fibers that possess cannabinoid receptors. CB1-like immunoreactivity was found in axons, cell bodies and dendrites, where it appeared as puncta in somata and processes. Both intensely and moderately or lightly stained neurons were observed. The intensely stained neurons were dispersed and only occur in cortical structures including hippocampal formation and olfactory bulb. Moderately or lightly stained neurons were found in caudate–putamen and amygdala. In the hippocampal formation only intensely stained neurons were observed. The cell bodies of pyramidal neurons in CA1 and CA3 fields appeared to be unstained but surrounded by a dense plexus of immunoreactive fibers. The granule cells in the dentate area were also immunonegative. Many intensely stained neurons were located at the base of the granule cell layer. CB1-like immunoreactive neurons and fibers were also found in the somatosensory, cingulate, perirhinal, entorhinal and piriform cortices, in claustrum, amygdaloid nuclei, nucleus accumbens and septum. Beaded immunoreactive fibers were detected in periaqueductal gray, nucleus tractus solitarius, spinal trigeminal tract and nucleus, dorsal horn and lamina X of the spinal cord. A triangular cap-like mass of immunoreactivity was found to surround the basal part of the Purkinje cell body in the cerebellum. Only small, lightly stained cells were found in the molecular layer in the cerebellum close to the Purkinje cell layer.
Article
Rhythmic activity of arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase (AANAT) determines melatonin synthesis in rat pineal gland. The transcriptional regulation of AANAT involves the activating and inhibiting transcription factors of the cyclic AMP (cAMP)-signaling pathway, cAMP response element-binding protein and inducible cAMP early repressor (ICER), respectively. Activation of this pathway is centered around norepinephrine, stimulating beta(1)-adrenergic receptors, but various other transmitters can modulate melatonin biosynthesis. To compare the transcriptional impact of norepinephrine with that of other neurotransmitters on melatonin synthesis, we determined ICER protein levels in pinealocytes and, in parallel, hormone secretion. The dose-dependent inductions of ICER protein by norepinephrine, the beta(1)-adrenergic receptor agonist isoproterenol, vasoactive intestinal peptide, pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide, and adenosine are correlated to regulatory dynamics in melatonin production. Importantly, ICER protein induction required lower ligand concentrations than the induction of melatonin biosynthesis. Although neuropeptide Y, glutamate, and vasopressin altered norepinephrine-stimulated hormone production without affecting ICER levels, the activation of voltage-gated cation channels increased ICER without affecting hormone synthesis. Sensitivity and versatility of ICER induction in pinealocytes make these neuroendocrine cells a valuable model system in which to study molecular interactions determining a regulated gene expression.
Article
Tolerance develops rapidly to cannabis, cannabinoids, and related drugs acting at the CB1 cannabinoid receptor. However, little is known about what happens to the receptor as tolerance is developing. In this study, we have found that CB1 receptors are rapidly internalized following agonist binding and receptor activation. Efficacious cannabinoid agonists (WIN 55,212-2, CP 55,940, and HU 210) caused rapid internalization. Methanandamide (an analogue of an endogenous cannabinoid, anandamide) was less effective, causing internalization only at high concentration, whereas delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol caused little internalization, even at 3 microM. CB1 internalized via clathrin-coated pits as sequestration was inhibited by hypertonic sucrose. Internalization did not require activated G protein alpha(i), alpha(o), or alpha(s) subunits. A region of the extreme carboxy terminus of the receptor was necessary for internalization, as a mutant CB1 receptor lacking the last 14 residues did not internalize, whereas a mutant lacking the last 10 residues did. Steps involved in the recycling of sequestered receptor were also investigated. Recovery of CB1 to the cell surface after short (20 min) but not long (90 min) agonist treatment was independent of new protein synthesis. Recycling also required endosomal acidification and dephosphorylation. These results show that CB1 receptor trafficking is dynamically regulated by cannabimimetic drugs.
Article
Release-modulating opioid and cannabinoid (CB) receptors, β-adrenoceptors and bradykinin receptors at noradrenergic axons were studied in mouse tissues (occipito-parietal cortex, heart atria, vas deferens and spleen) preincubated with 3H-noradrenaline. Experiments using the OP1 receptor-selective agonists DPDPE and DSLET, the OP2-selective agonists U50488H and U69593, the OP3-selective agonist DAMGO, the ORL1 receptor-selective agonist nociceptin, and a number of selective antagonists showed that the noradrenergic axons innervating the occipito-parietal cortex possess release-inhibiting OP3 and ORL1 receptors, those innervating atria OP1, ORL1 and possibly OP3 receptors, and those innervating the vas deferens all four opioid receptor types. Experiments using the non-selective CB agonists WIN 55,212-2 and CP 55,940 and the CB1-selective antagonist SR 141716A indicated that the noradrenergic axons of the vas deferens possess release-inhibiting CB1 receptors. Presynaptic CB receptors were not found in the occipito-parietal cortex, in atria or in the spleen. Experiments using the non-selective β-adrenoceptor agonist isoprenaline and the β2-selective agonist salbutamol, as well as subtype-selective antagonists, demonstrated the occurrence of release-enhancing β2-adrenoceptors at the sympathetic axons of atria and the spleen, but demonstrated their absence in the occipito-parietal cortex and the vas deferens. Experiments with bradykinin and the B2-selective antagonist Hoe 140 showed the operation of release-enhancing B2 receptors at the sympathetic axons of atria, the vas deferens and the spleen, but showed their absence in the occipito-parietal cortex. The experiments document a number of new presynaptic receptor locations. They confirm and extend the existence of marked tissue and species differences in presynaptic receptors at noradrenergic neurons. British Journal of Pharmacology (2000) 130, 321–330; doi:10.1038/sj.bjp.0703305
Article
The CB(1)-type cannabinoid receptor mediates physiologic effects of Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient of the drug marijuana. In this report, the authors analyse the expression of CB(1) in the rat brain by using antibodies to the C-terminal 13 amino acids of the receptor. Western blot analysis of rat brain membranes revealed a prominent immunoreactive band with a molecular mass ( approximately 53 kDa) consistent with that predicted for CB(1) from the rat cDNA sequence. In addition, however, less intense immunoreactive bands corresponding to glycosylated ( approximately 62 kDa) and putative N-terminally shorter ( approximately 45 kDa) isoforms of CB(1) were detected. The distribution of CB(1)-immunoreactivity in rat brain was similar to the distribution of binding sites for radiolabelled cannabinoids, with high levels of expression in the olfactory system, the hippocampal formation, the basal ganglia, the cerebellum, and the neocortex. This provides important evidence that CB(1) is likely to be largely responsible for mediating effects of cannabinoids in the brain. CB(1) immunoreactivity was associated with nerve fibre systems and axon terminals but was not detected in neuronal somata. This is consistent with the presynaptic inhibitory effects of cannabinoids on neurotransmitter release in the brain. Detailed immunocytochemical analysis of anatomically or functionally related regions of the brain revealed the location of CB(1) receptors within identified neural circuits. Determination of the cellular and subcellular location of CB(1) within known neuronal circuits of the brain provides an anatomic framework for interpretation of the neurophysiologic and behavioural effects of cannabinoids.
Article
The molecular processes underlying neural transmission are central issues in neurobiology. Here we describe a novel mechanism through which noradrenaline (NA) activates its target cells, using the mammalian pineal organ as a model. In this neuroendocrine transducer, NA stimulates arylalkylamine N:-acetyltransferase (AANAT; EC 2.3.1. 87), the key enzyme regulating the nocturnal melatonin production. In rodents, AANAT protein accumulates as a result of enhanced transcription, but in primates and ungulates, the AANAT mRNA level fluctuates only marginally, indicating that other mechanisms regulate AANAT protein and activity. These were investigated in cultured bovine pinealocytes. AANAT mRNA was readily detectable in unstimulated pinealocytes, and levels did not change following NA treatment. In contrast, NA increased AANAT protein levels in parallel with AANAT activity, apparently through a cyclic AMP-mediated mechanism. Immunocytochemistry revealed that the changes in AANAT protein levels occurred in virtually all pinealocytes. Inhibition of AANAT degradation by proteasomal proteolysis alone was found to switch-on enzyme activity by increasing AANAT protein levels five- to 10-fold. Accordingly, under unstimulated conditions AANAT protein is continually synthesized and immediately destroyed by proteasomal proteolysis. NA appears to act via cyclic AMP to protect AANAT from proteolytic destruction, resulting in accumulation of the protein. These findings show that tightly regulated control of proteasomal proteolysis of a specific protein alone can play a pivotal role in neural regulation.
Article
Serotonin N-acetyltransferase (AANAT) controls the daily rhythm in melatonin synthesis. When isolated from tissue, AANAT copurifies with isoforms epsilon and zeta of 14-3-3. We have determined the structure of AANAT bound to 14-3-3zeta, an association that is phosphorylation dependent. AANAT is bound in the central channel of the 14-3-3zeta dimer, and is held in place by extensive interactions both with the amphipathic phosphopeptide binding groove of 14-3-3zeta and with other parts of the central channel. Thermodynamic and activity measurements, together with crystallographic analysis, indicate that binding of AANAT by 14-3-3zeta modulates AANAT's activity and affinity for its substrates by stabilizing a region of AANAT involved in substrate binding.
Article
The rat pineal gland is a suitable model to investigate neurotransmitter-controlled gene expression, because it is well established that the stimulation of melatonin biosynthesis by norepinephrine (NE) depends on the activation of the gene that encodes arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase (AANAT), the melatonin rhythm enzyme. The mechanisms responsible for downregulation of Aanat transcription are less clear. In this in vitro study we investigated the role of pCREB dephosphorylation for termination of Aanat gene transcription. Immunosignals for pCREB, strongly induced after NE stimulation, rapidly decreased after withdrawal of NE. The immunoreactivity of the inhibitory transcription factor ICER increased twofold after NE treatment for 6 h, but did not change within 30 min after removal of the stimulus. Application of protein serine/threonine phosphatase (PSP) inhibitors prevented pCREB dephosphorylation and blocked the decreases in Aanat mRNA levels, AANAT protein amount and melatonin biosynthesis all of which occurred rapidly after NE withdrawal. PSPs in the rat pineal gland were characterized by immunocytochemistry and immunoblotting. NE-stimulation for 8 h induced accumulation of PSP1-catalytic subunit (CSU) in pinealocyte nuclei, but did not affect the distribution of PSP2A-CSU. The results identify dephosphorylation of pCREB by PSPs as an essential mechanism for downregulation of Aanat transcription in the rat pineal gland.
Article
The endocannabinoids are a family of lipid messengers that engage the cell surface receptors that are targeted by Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the active principle in marijuana (Cannabis). They are made on demand through cleavage of membrane precursors and are involved in various short-range signalling processes. In the brain, they combine with CB1 cannabinoid receptors on axon terminals to regulate ion channel activity and neurotransmitter release. Their ability to modulate synaptic efficacy has a wide range of functional consequences and provides unique therapeutic possibilities.
Article
The pineal gland, through nocturnal melatonin, acts as a neuroendocrine transducer of daily and seasonal time. Melatonin synthesis is driven by rhythmic activation of the rate-limiting enzyme, arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase (AA-NAT). In ungulates, AA-NAT mRNA is constitutively high throughout the 24-h cycle, and melatonin production is primarily controlled through effects on AA-NAT enzyme activity; this is in contrast to dominant transcriptional control in rodents. To determine whether there has been a selective loss of circadian control of AA-NAT mRNA expression in the sheep pineal, we measured the expression of other genes known to be rhythmic in rodents (inducible cAMP early repressor ICER, the circadian clock genes Period1 and Cryptochrome1, as well as AA-NAT). We first assayed gene expression in pineal glands collected from Soay sheep adapted to short days (Light: dark, 8-h: 16-h), and killed at 4-h intervals through 24-h. We found no evidence for rhythmic expression of ICER, AA-NAT or Cryptochrome1 under these conditions, whilst Period1 showed a low amplitude rhythm of expression, with higher values during the dark period. In a second group of animals, lights out was delayed by 8-h during the final 24-h sampling period, a manipulation that causes an immediate shortening of the period of melatonin secretion. This did not significantly affect the expression of ICER, AA-NAT or Cryptochrome1 in the pineal, whilst a slight suppressive effect on overall Per1 levels was observed. The attenuated response to photoperiod change appears to be specific to the ovine pineal, as the first long day induced rapid changes of Period1 and ICER expression in the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nuclei and pituitary pars tuberalis, respectively.
Article
The endogenous ligands of cannabinoid receptors, also known as endocannabinoids, have been implicated in many physiological and pathological processes of the central nervous system. Here we show that the levels of the two major endocannabinoids, anandamide and 2-arachidonoyl-glycerol (2-AG), in four areas of the rat brain, change dramatically between the light and dark phases of the day. While anandamide levels in the nucleus accumbens, pre-frontal cortex, striatum and hippocampus were significantly higher in the dark phase, the opposite was observed with 2-AG, whose levels were significantly higher during the light phase in all four regions. We found that the activity of the fatty acid amide hydrolase, which catalyzes the metabolism of anandamide, was significantly lower during the dark phase, thus providing a possible explaination for the increase in anandamide levels. However, the activities of monoacylglycerol lipase and diacylglycerol lipase, two of the possible enzymes catalyzing the degradation and biosynthesis of 2-AG, respectively, changed significantly only in the striatum. These data suggest that the levels of the two major endocannabinoids might be under the control of endogenous factors known to undergo diurnal variations, and underscore the different roles, suggested by previous studies, of anandamide and 2-AG in neurophysiological processes.
Article
Neocortical GABA-containing interneurons form complex functional networks responsible for feedforward and feedback inhibition and for the generation of cortical oscillations associated with several behavioural functions. We previously reported that fast-spiking (FS), but not low-threshold-spiking (LTS), neocortical interneurons from rats generate a fast and precise self-inhibition mediated by inhibitory autaptic transmission. Here we show that LTS cells possess a different form of self-inhibition. LTS, but not FS, interneurons undergo a prominent hyperpolarization mediated by an increased K+-channel conductance. This self-induced inhibition lasts for many minutes, is dependent on an increase in intracellular [Ca2+] and is blocked by the cannabinoid receptor antagonist AM251, indicating that it is mediated by the autocrine release of endogenous cannabinoids. Endocannabinoid-mediated slow self-inhibition represents a powerful and long-lasting mechanism that alters the intrinsic excitability of LTS neurons, which selectively target the major site of excitatory connections onto pyramidal neurons; that is, their dendrites. Thus, modulation of LTS networks after their sustained firing will lead to long-lasting changes of glutamate-mediated synaptic strength in pyramidal neurons, with consequences during normal and pathophysiological cortical network activities.
Article
The cannabinoid signaling system is composed of cannabinoid (CB) receptors, their endogenous ligands, the endocannabinoids, and the enzymes that produce and inactivate them. It is well known that neurons communicate between each other through this signaling system. Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychoactive compound of marijuana, interacts with CB receptors, impinging on this communication and inducing profound behavioral effects such as memory impairment and analgesia. Recent evidence suggests that glial cells also express components of the cannabinoid signaling system and marijuana-derived compounds act at CB receptors expressed by glial cells, affecting their functions. This review summarizes this evidence, discusses how glial cells might use the cannabinoid signaling system to communicate with neighboring cells, and argues that nonpsychotropic cannabinoids, both marijuana-derived and synthetic, likely constitute lead compounds for therapy aimed at reducing acute and chronic neuroinflammation, such as occurs in multiple sclerosis.
Article
Circadian melatonin production in the pineal gland and retina is under the control of serotonin N-acetyltransferase (NAT) and hydroxyindole-O-methyltransferase. Because NAT activity varies diurnally, it has been considered both the melatonin rhythm-generating enzyme and the rate-limiting enzyme of melatonin synthesis. In rats with dramatically reduced NAT activity due to a H28Y mutation in NAT, melatonin levels remained the same as in wildtype controls, suggesting that NAT does not determine the rate of melatonin production at night. Using a combination of molecular approaches with a sensitive in vivo measurement of pineal diurnal melatonin production, we demonstrate that (i) N-acetylserotonin (NAS), the enzymatic product of NAT, is present in vast excess in the night pineals compared with melatonin; (ii) the continuous increase in NAT protein levels at late night does not produce a proportional increase in melatonin; and (iii) an increase in NAS in the same animal over several circadian cycles do not result in corresponding increase in melatonin output. These results strongly suggest that NAT is not the rate-limiting enzyme of melatonin formation at night.
Article
The endocannabinoid anandamide (N-arachidonoylethanolamine) was proposed to be an extracellular retrograde messenger, which regulates excitability of neurons by cannabinoid CB1 receptor-dependent inhibition of neurotransmitter release. Recent findings indicate that the neuromodulatory actions of anandamide might be more complex. Anandamide has been shown to directly modulate various ion channels, such as alpha7-nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, T-type Ca2+ channels, voltage-gated and background K+-channels and Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid type 1 (TRPV1) channels. The binding site of anandamide at some of these ion channels appears to be intracellular or at the bilayer interface. This rises the intriguing possibility that anandamide, prior to its release into the synaptic cleft, may regulate ion homeostasis and excitability of neurons as an intracellular modulator of ion channels independent of its action at cannabinoid CB1 receptors. This possibility might extend the concept of anandamide as an endocannabinoid retrograde messenger and may have profound implications for its role in neurotransmission and neuronal function. Here, we will review the evidence for this hypothesis.