CB(2) cannabinoid receptor antagonist SR144528 decreases mu-opioid receptor expression and activation in mouse brainstem: role of CB(2) receptor in pain

Neurochem Int. 2008 Dec;53(6-8):309-16. doi: 10.1016/j.neuint.2008.08.005. Epub 2008 Aug 29.


Formerly considered as an exclusively peripheral receptor, it is now accepted that CB(2) cannabinoid receptor is also present in limited amounts and distinct locations in the brain of several animal species, including mice. However, the possible roles of CB(2) receptors in the brain need to be clarified. The aim of our work was to study the mu-opioid receptor (MOR) mRNA expression level and functional activity after acute in vivo and in vitro treatments with the endocannabinoid noladin ether (NE) and with the CB(2) receptor antagonist SR144528 in brainstem of mice deficient in either CB(1) or CB(2) receptors. This study is based on our previous observations that noladin ether (NE) produces decrease in the activity of MOR in forebrain and this attenuation can be antagonized by the CB(2) cannabinoid antagonist SR144528, suggesting a CB(2) receptor mediated effect. We used quantitative real-time PCR to examine the changes of MOR mRNA levels, [(35)S]GTPgammaS binding assay to analyze the capability of mu-opioid agonist DAMGO to activate G-proteins and competition binding assays to directly measure the ligand binding to MOR in mice brainstem. After acute NE administration no significant changes were observed on MOR signaling. Nevertheless pretreatment of mice with SR144528 prior to the administration of NE significantly decreased MOR signaling suggesting the involvement of SR144528 in mediating the effect of MOR. mRNA expression of MORs significantly decreased both in CB(1) wild-type and CB(1) knockout mice after a single injection of SR144528 at 0.1mg/kg when compared to the vehicle treated controls. Consequently, MOR-mediated signaling was attenuated after acute in vivo treatment with SR144528 in both CB(1) wild-type and CB(1) knockout mice. In vitro addition of 1microM SR144528 caused a decrease in the maximal stimulation of DAMGO in [(35)S]GTPgammaS binding assays in CB(2) wild-type brainstem membranes whereas no significant changes were observed in CB(2) receptor knockouts. Radioligand binding competition studies showed that the noticed effect of SR144528 on MOR signaling is not mediated through MORs. Our data demonstrate that the SR144528 caused pronounced decrease in the activity of MOR is mediated via CB(2) cannabinoid receptors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding, Competitive / drug effects
  • Binding, Competitive / physiology
  • Brain Stem / metabolism*
  • Camphanes / pharmacology*
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators / agonists
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators / metabolism*
  • Down-Regulation / drug effects
  • Down-Regulation / physiology
  • Enkephalin, Ala(2)-MePhe(4)-Gly(5)- / pharmacology
  • Glycerides / pharmacology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Nociceptors / drug effects
  • Nociceptors / metabolism
  • Pain / metabolism*
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Pyrazoles / pharmacology*
  • RNA, Messenger / drug effects
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Radioligand Assay
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / drug effects
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / genetics
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2 / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Opioid, mu / genetics*


  • Camphanes
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators
  • Glycerides
  • Pyrazoles
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2
  • Receptors, Opioid, mu
  • SR 144528
  • noladin ether
  • Enkephalin, Ala(2)-MePhe(4)-Gly(5)-