Cannabis has been demonstrated to have bronchodilator, anti-inflammatory, and antitussive activity in the airways, but information on the active cannabinoids, their receptors, and the mechanisms for these effects is limited. We compared the effects of Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol, cannabigerol, cannabichromene, cannabidiolic acid, and tetrahydrocannabivarin on contractions of the guinea pig-isolated trachea and bronchoconstriction induced by nerve stimulation or methacholine in anesthetized guinea pigs following exposure to saline or the proinflammatory cytokine, tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α). CP55940 (2-[(1R,2R,5R)-5-hydroxy-2-(3-hydroxypropyl) cyclohexyl]-5-(2-methyloctan-2-yl)phenol), a synthetic cannabinoid agonist, was also investigated in vitro. The cannabinoids were also evaluated on TNF-α- and lipopolysaccharide-induced leukocyte infiltration into the lungs and citric acid-induced cough responses in guinea pigs. TNF-α, but not saline, augmented tracheal contractility and bronchoconstriction induced by nerve stimulation, but not methacholine. Δ(9)-Tetrahydrocannabinol and CP55940 reduced TNF-α-enhanced nerve-evoked contractions in vitro to the magnitude of saline-incubated trachea. This effect was antagonized by the cannabinoid 1 (CB(1)) and CB(2) receptor antagonists AM251 [N-(piperidin-1-yl)-5-(4-iodophenyl)-1-(2,4-dichlorophenyl)-4-methyl-1H-pyrazole-3-caroxamide] and JTE907 [N-(1,3-benzodioxol-5-ylmethyl)-1,2-dihydro-7-methoxy-2-oxo-8-(pentyloxy)-3-quinolinecarboxamide], respectively. Tetrahydrocannabivarin partially inhibited the TNF-α-enhanced nerve-evoked contractions, whereas the other cannabinoids were without effect. The effect of cannabidiol and Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol together did not differ from that of the latter alone. Only Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol inhibited TNF-α-enhanced vagal-induced bronchoconstriction, neutrophil recruitment to the airways, and citric acid-induced cough responses. TNF-α potentiated contractions of airway smooth muscle in response to nerve stimulation by enhancing postganglionic acetylcholine release. Δ(9)-Tetrahydrocannabinol and CP55940 inhibited the TNF-α-enhanced acetylcholine release, and hence contraction and bronchoconstriction, through activation of presynaptic CB(1) and CB(2) receptors. The other cannabinoids did not influence cholinergic transmission, and only Δ(9)-THC demonstrated effects on airway hyper-responsiveness, anti-inflammatory activity, and antitussive activity in the airways.
Copyright © 2015 by The American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.