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, 16 (1), 208

Upregulation of Cannabinoid Receptor Type 2, but Not TSPO, in Senescence-Accelerated Neuroinflammation in Mice: A Positron Emission Tomography Study


Upregulation of Cannabinoid Receptor Type 2, but Not TSPO, in Senescence-Accelerated Neuroinflammation in Mice: A Positron Emission Tomography Study

Satoru Yamagishi et al. J Neuroinflammation.


Background: Microglial cells are activated in response to changes in brain homeostasis during aging, dementia, and stroke. Type 2 endocannabinoid receptors (CB2) and translocator protein 18 kD (TSPO) are considered to reflect distinct aspects of microglia-related neuroinflammatory responses in the brain. CB2 activation is considered to relate to the neuroprotective responses that may occur predominantly in the early stage of brain disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, while an increase in TSPO expression tends to occur later during neuroinflammation, in a proinflammatory fashion. However, this information was deduced from studies with different animal samples under different experimental settings. In this study, we aimed to examine the early microglial status in the inflammation occurring in the brains of senescence-accelerated mouse prone 10 (SAMP10) mice, using positron emission tomography (PET) with CB2 and TSPO tracers, together with immunohistochemistry.

Methods: Five- and 15-week-old SAMP10 mice that undergo neurodegeneration after 7 months of age were used. The binding levels of the TSPO tracer (R)-[11C]PK11195 and CB2 tracer [11C]NE40 were measured using PET in combination with immunohistochemistry for CB2 and TSPO. To our knowledge, this is the first study to report PET data for CB2 and TSPO at the early stage of cognitive impairment in an animal model.

Results: The standard uptake value ratios (SUVRs) of [11C]NE40 binding were significantly higher than those of (R)-[11C]PK11195 binding in the cerebral cortical region at 15 weeks of age. At 5 weeks of age, the [11C]NE40 SUVR tended to be higher than the (R)-[11C]PK11195 SUVR. The (R)-[11C]PK11195 SUVR did not significantly differ between 5- and 15-week-old mice. Consistently, immunostaining analysis confirmed the upregulation of CB2, but not TSPO.

Conclusions: The use of the CB2 tracer [11C]NE40 and/or an immunohistochemical approach allows evaluation of the role of microglia in acute neuroinflammatory processes in the early stage of neurodegeneration. The present results provide in vivo evidence of different responses of two types of microglia to senescence-accelerated neuroinflammation, implying the perturbation of microglial balance by aging. Specific treatment for CB2-positive microglia might help ameliorate senescence-related neuroinflammation and the following neurodegeneration.

Keywords: Cannabinoid receptor type 2; Immunostaining; Microglial activation; Positron emission tomography; Senescence-accelerated prone mouse; Translocator protein.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


Fig. 1
Fig. 1
Coronal parametric PET images of [11C]NE40 and (R)-[11C]PK11195 tracers in 5-week-old (a) and 15-week-old (b) SAMP10 mice. The PET data are superimposed on X-ray CT images, and the color bar denotes the SUVR
Fig. 2
Fig. 2
The SUVRs of [11C]NE40 and (R)-[11C]PK11195 SUVR (a, b) and their relationships (c, d). The [11C]NE40 SUVR was significantly higher than the (R)-[11C]PK11195 SUVR in the cerebral cortex in 15-week-old mice (b, *p < 0.05). The binding of the two tracers showed a positive correlation at 5 weeks of age (c). The dotted lines in c represent the 95% confidence intervals for the correlation. Dagger indicates a tendency for significant difference (p < 0.07)
Fig. 3
Fig. 3
Double immunostaining for CB2 (green) and Iba1, CaMKII, or GFAP (red) in the cortex (a) and hippocampus (b) at 5 and 15 weeks of age. Note that the CB2 signal is greatly increased and localized to the microglia at 15 weeks of age. Arrowheads indicate CB2 signals in microglial cells. Scale bar 10 μm
Fig. 4
Fig. 4
Triple immunostaining for TSPO (green), ATPB (red), and Iba1 (yellow) in the cortex (a, c) and hippocampus (b, d) areas at 5 (a, b) and 15 weeks of age (c, d). Arrowheads indicate TSPO signals in microglial cells. Scale bar 10 μm

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