Biochemie, Chemie und Pharmazie
The regulation of endocannabinoids after neuronal damage and the neuroprotective impact of GPR55 in organotypic hippocampal slice cultures
- Endocannabinoids (eCB) are signaling lipids and became known for their importance in the central nervous system as well as in immune defense. Beneficial effects of eCB are shown in processes of excitotoxic lesion, secondary damage and neuronal plasticity throughout the last years. Two canabinoid receptors, type 1 (CB1) and type 2 (CB2) as the respective endogenous ligands belong to the endocannabinoid system (eCBS). In 1990, the CB1 could be cloned and was localised mainly on neurons. Shortly thereafter in 1993, the CB2 was characterised and found primarily on cells belonging to the immune system. N-arachidonoylethanolamide (AEA), often called anandamide, and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) are the best characterised eCB. N-palmitylethanolamide (PEA) and N-oleoylethanolamide (OEA) have no or only low affinity to CB1 but enhance the affinity of AEA significantly. This group is therefore often summarized as N-ethanolamides (NEA). ECB are derivates of arachidonic acid and are stored in membranes where they become hydrolysed on demand by specific enzymes. Traumatic brain injury altered the levels of eCB in the blood in vivo and when applied in vitro after neuronal damage, eCB could reduce the damaging burden. Further studies demonstrated that eCB are potent to down-regulate pro-inflammatory cytokines and most important to decrease neuronal excitation.
In the present study, the intrinsic regulation of the endocannabinoid system after neuronal damage over time was investigated in rat Organotypic Hippocampal Slice Cultures (OHSC). Temporal and spatial dynamics of eCB levels were analysed after transection of the perforant pathway (PPT) in originating neurons (enthorhinal cortex, EC), areas of deafferentiation/anterograde axonal degeneration (dentate gyrus, DG) and of the synaptically linked cornu ammonis region 1 (CA1) as well as after excitotoxic lesion in the respective regions.
A strong increase of all eCB was observed only in the denervation zone of the DG 24 hours post PPT. In excitotoxic lesioned OHSC all eCB were elevated, in the investigated regions up to 72 hours post lesion (hpl). The responsible enzyme for biosynthesis of the NEA, NAPE-PLD protein, was increased during the early timepoints of measurement (1-6 hpl). The responsible catabolizing enzyme, FAAH, and the CB1 receptor were up-regulated at a later timepoint, 48 hpl, explaining the eCB levels. In the present model, the inhibition of the enzyme responsible for 2-AG hydrolysis (MAGL) was neuroprotective as previously shown and a re-distribution within neurons and astrocytes during neuronal damage could be observed. In primary cell cultures microglia expressed the regulating enzymes of 2-AG and the enzyme responsible for NEA down-regulation, FAAH. Astrocytes expressed mainly the catalyzing enzymes, indicating the role for eCB break-down. All these findings together demonstrate the great capacity of the eCBS to control inflammatory processes and consequently neuronal cell death.
All effects of the known eCB could not be clarified by CB1/CB2 deficient mice. Several G-protein coupled receptors (GPR) are recently in discussion whether they might and should belong to the endocannabinoid system. The GPR55, the not yet cloned abnormal cannabidiol receptor and further GPRs are candidates as potential endocannabinoid receptors. Recently GPR55 has been discussed as a putative cannabinoid receptor type 3 (CB3). Quantitative PCR revealed that Gpr55 is present in primary microglia and the brain, but the exact regional and cellular distribution and the physiological/pathological effects downstream of GPR55 activation in the CNS still remain open. Therefore, the excitotoxic rat OHSC model, previously used to investigate the neuroprotective potency of eCB, was now used to investigate the neuroprotective potency of GPR55. Activation of GPR55 protected dentate gyrus granule cells in vitro after excitotoxic lesion, induced by NMDA. In parallel, GPR55 activation was able to reduce the number of microglia in the dentate gyrus. These neuroprotective effects vanished however in microglia depleted OHSCs as well as in OHSC transfected with Gpr55 siRNA, indicating a strong involvement of microglia in GPR55 mediated neuroprotection.
In summary, the present study found a strong time-dependent and anterograde mechanism of action of eCB after long-range projection damage and provided further evidence for the neuroprotective properties of eCB. The potential cannabinoid receptor 3 (GPR55) mediates neuronal protection on behalf of microglia.
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