Effect of cannabinoids upon the uptake of folic acid by BeWo cells

Pharmacology. 2009;83(3):170-6. doi: 10.1159/000192587. Epub 2009 Jan 15.


Folic acid (FA) is an essential micronutrient that is particularly important during pregnancy for normal placental and fetal development and growth. The placenta and the fetus become frequently exposed to drugs of abuse such as cannabinoids because of maternal use of these substances. The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of cannabinoids on the uptake of FA by BeWo cells. Acute treatment with anandamide (1-10 micromol/l) caused a 15% decrease in (3)H-FA uptake at pH 7.5. Moreover, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) (1-10 micromol/l) caused a 30% increase, and AM630 (1 mumol/l) a 15% decrease in this parameter at pH 6.5. Neither the inhibitory effect of anandamide nor the stimulatory effect of THC were changed in the presence of cannabi- noid receptor type 1 or type 2 antagonists (AM251 and AM630, respectively). Chronic treatment (48 h) with THC (100 nmol/l) and AM251 (100 nmol/l) decreased the uptake of (3)H-FA by 20% at pH 7.5, and anandamide (1 micromol/l) and AM630 (10-500 nmol/l) increased it by 30%. Moreover, CP55,940 (10 nmol/l) increased the uptake of (3)H-FA by 30% at pH 6.5. RT-PCR analysis showed that the mRNA levels of the reduced folate transporter 1 increased by 9% after chronic treatment with AM630 (500 nmol/l). The mRNA levels of the proton-coupled folate transporter decreased by 17% and increased by 18% after chronic treatment with THC (0.1 mumol/l) and AM251 (100 nmol/l), respectively. In conclusion, (3)H-FA uptake by BeWo cells is significantly, although not very markedly, changed by several distinct CB receptor agonists and antagonists, both after acute and chronic exposure of the cells. The acute effects of cannabinoid receptor agonists do not seem to be mediated by the cannabinoid receptor, and with a few exceptions the chronic effects do not seem to be related to changes in the expression levels of FA transporters.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arachidonic Acids / pharmacology
  • Carrier Proteins / analysis
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cyclohexanols / pharmacology
  • Dronabinol / pharmacology*
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Endocannabinoids
  • Female
  • Folate Receptors, GPI-Anchored
  • Folic Acid / analysis*
  • Folic Acid / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Indoles / pharmacology
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / analysis
  • Piperidines / pharmacology
  • Placenta / metabolism*
  • Polyunsaturated Alkamides / pharmacology
  • Pyrazoles / pharmacology
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / agonists
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2 / agonists
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / analysis


  • Arachidonic Acids
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Cyclohexanols
  • Endocannabinoids
  • Folate Receptors, GPI-Anchored
  • Indoles
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Piperidines
  • Polyunsaturated Alkamides
  • Pyrazoles
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • SLC19A2 protein, human
  • AM 251
  • Dronabinol
  • 3-(2-hydroxy-4-(1,1-dimethylheptyl)phenyl)-4-(3-hydroxypropyl)cyclohexanol
  • Folic Acid
  • iodopravadoline
  • anandamide