Evaluation of prevalent phytocannabinoids in the acetic acid model of visceral nociception

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2009 Nov 1;105(1-2):42-7. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2009.06.009. Epub 2009 Aug 12.


Considerable preclinical research has demonstrated the efficacy of Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta(9)-THC), the primary psychoactive constituent of Cannabis sativa, in a wide variety of animal models of pain, but few studies have examined other phytocannabinoids. Indeed, other plant-derived cannabinoids, including cannabidiol (CBD), cannabinol (CBN), and cannabichromene (CBC) elicit antinociceptive effects in some assays. In contrast, tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), another component of cannabis, antagonizes the pharmacological effects of Delta(9)-THC. These results suggest that various constituents of this plant may interact in a complex manner to modulate pain. The primary purpose of the present study was to assess the antinociceptive effects of these other prevalent phytocannabinoids in the acetic acid stretching test, a rodent visceral pain model. Of the cannabinoid compounds tested, Delta(9)-THC and CBN bound to the CB(1) receptor and produced antinociceptive effects. The CB(1) receptor antagonist, rimonabant, but not the CB(2) receptor antagonist, SR144528, blocked the antinociceptive effects of both compounds. Although THCV bound to the CB(1) receptor with similar affinity as Delta(9)-THC, it had no effects when administered alone, but antagonized the antinociceptive effects of Delta(9)-THC when both drugs were given in combination. Importantly, the antinociceptive effects of Delta(9)-THC and CBN occurred at lower doses than those necessary to produce locomotor suppression, suggesting motor dysfunction did not account for the decreases in acetic acid-induced abdominal stretching. These data raise the intriguing possibility that other constituents of cannabis can be used to modify the pharmacological effects of Delta(9)-THC by either eliciting antinociceptive effects (i.e., CBN) or antagonizing (i.e., THCV) the actions of Delta(9)-THC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acetic Acid*
  • Analgesics* / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Anti-Obesity Agents / pharmacology
  • Camphanes / pharmacology
  • Cannabinoids / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Cannabinoids / pharmacology*
  • Cyclohexanols / pharmacology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Dronabinol / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Pain / chemically induced
  • Pain / prevention & control*
  • Pain Measurement / drug effects*
  • Piperidines / pharmacology
  • Pyrazoles / pharmacology
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / drug effects
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / metabolism
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2 / drug effects
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2 / metabolism
  • Rimonabant


  • Analgesics
  • Anti-Obesity Agents
  • Camphanes
  • Cannabinoids
  • Cyclohexanols
  • Piperidines
  • Pyrazoles
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2
  • SR 144528
  • Dronabinol
  • 3-(2-hydroxy-4-(1,1-dimethylheptyl)phenyl)-4-(3-hydroxypropyl)cyclohexanol
  • Acetic Acid
  • Rimonabant