CP47,497-C8 and JWH073, commonly found in 'Spice' herbal blends, are potent and efficacious CB(1) cannabinoid receptor agonists

Eur J Pharmacol. 2011 Jun 1;659(2-3):139-45. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2011.01.066. Epub 2011 Feb 16.


'Spice' is an herbal blend that has been reported to produce cannabis-like effects when smoked and is marketed as an alternative to marijuana. Synthetic additives have been identified in numerous 'Spice' preparations from different sources. Common among many of the preparations were the compounds JWH018 and a dimethyloctyl variant of CP47,497 (CP47,497-C8) and, more recently JWH073. The synaptic effects of each of these compounds were uncharacterized. We previously reported that JWH018 is a potent and efficacious CB(1) cannabinoid receptor agonist. In this study we have examined the abilities of CP47,497-C8 and JWH073 to inhibit neurotransmission in cultured autaptic hippocampal neurons. Each inhibited EPSCs with an efficacy and potency similar to JWH018. We also analyzed these compounds' effects on promoting internalization of CB(1) receptors in HEK293 cells stably expressing CB(1) receptors. Similar to our neurotransmission data, CP47,497-C8 internalized CB(1) in a fashion indistinguishable from JWH018. However, JWH073 was less potent and produced slower internalization than JWH018 and CP47,497-C8. It appears that 'Spice' contains a number of cannabinoid receptor agonists that activate CB(1) receptors to inhibit synaptic transmission with similar potencies and efficacies. It is highly probable that the cannabis-like effects of 'Spice' are due to the presence of these and analogous synthetic additives acting on CB(1) receptors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Cyclohexanols / chemistry*
  • Cyclohexanols / pharmacology*
  • Indoles / chemistry*
  • Indoles / pharmacology*
  • Mice
  • Naphthalenes / chemistry*
  • Naphthalenes / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Protein Transport / drug effects
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / agonists*
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / metabolism
  • Stereoisomerism
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Substance-Related Disorders / metabolism
  • Substance-Related Disorders / physiopathology
  • Synaptic Transmission / drug effects


  • Cyclohexanols
  • Indoles
  • Naphthalenes
  • Plant Extracts
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1
  • CP 47497
  • 1-pentyl-3-(1-naphthoyl)indole