Background and purpose: Accumulating recent evidence suggests that cannabinoid-1 (CB(1)) receptor activation may promote inflammation and cell death and its pharmacological inhibition is associated with anti-inflammatory and tissue-protective effects in various preclinical disease models, as well as in humans.
Experimental approach: In this study, using molecular biology and biochemistry methods, we have investigated the effects of genetic deletion or pharmacological inhibition of CB(1) receptors on inflammation, oxidative/nitrosative stress and cell death pathways associated with a clinically relevant model of nephropathy, induced by an important chemotherapeutic drug cisplatin.
Results: Cisplatin significantly increased endocannabinoid anandamide content, activation of p38 and JNK mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs), apoptotic and poly (ADP-ribose)polymerase-dependent cell death, enhanced inflammation (leucocyte infiltration, tumour necrosis factor-alpha and interleukin-1beta) and promoted oxidative/nitrosative stress [increased expressions of superoxide-generating enzymes (NOX2(gp91phox), NOX4), inducible nitric oxide synthase and tissue 4-hydroxynonenal and nitrotyrosine levels] in the kidneys of mice, accompanied by marked histopathological damage and impaired renal function (elevated creatinine and serum blood urea nitrogen) 3 days following its administration. Both genetic deletion and pharmacological inhibition of CB(1) receptors with AM281 or SR141716 markedly attenuated the cisplatin-induced renal dysfunction and interrelated oxidative/nitrosative stress, p38 and JNK MAPK activation, cell death and inflammatory response in the kidney.
Conclusions and implications: The endocannabinoid system through CB(1) receptors promotes cisplatin-induced tissue injury by amplifying MAPK activation, cell death and interrelated inflammation and oxidative/nitrosative stress. These results also suggest that inhibition of CB(1) receptors may exert beneficial effects in renal (and most likely other) diseases associated with enhanced inflammation, oxidative/nitrosative stress and cell death.