Altered endocannabinoid metabolism compromises the brain-CSF barrier and exacerbates chronic deficits after traumatic brain injury in mice

Exp Neurol. 2023 Mar;361:114320. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2023.114320. Epub 2023 Jan 7.


Endocannabinoids [2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) and N-arachidonoylethanolamine (AEA)], endogenously produced arachidonate-based lipids, are anti-inflammatory physiological ligands for two known cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, yet the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying their effects after brain injury are poorly defined. In the present study, we hypothesize that traumatic brain injury (TBI)-induced loss of endocannabinoids exaggerates neurovascular injury, compromises brain-cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) barriers (BCB) and causes behavioral dysfunction. Preliminary analysis in human CSF and plasma indicates changes in endocannabinoid levels. This encouraged us to investigate the levels of endocannabinoid-metabolizing enzymes in a mouse model of controlled cortical impact (CCI). Reductions in endocannabinoid (2-AG and AEA) levels in plasma were supported by higher expression of their respective metabolizing enzymes, monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL), fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), and cyclooxygenase 2 (Cox-2) in the post-TBI mouse brain. Following increased metabolism of endocannabinoids post-TBI, we observed increased expression of CB2, non-cannabinoid receptor Transient receptor potential vanilloid-1 (TRPV1), aquaporin 4 (AQP4), ionized calcium binding adaptor molecule 1 (IBA1), glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), and acute reduction in cerebral blood flow (CBF). The BCB and pericontusional cortex showed altered endocannabinoid expressions and reduction in ventricular volume. Finally, loss of motor functions and induced anxiety behaviors were observed in these TBI mice. Taken together, our findings suggest endocannabinoids and their metabolizing enzymes play an important role in the brain and BCB integrity and highlight the need for more extensive studies on these mechanisms.

Keywords: 2-arachidonyl glycerol (2-AG); Brain-CSF Barriers (BCB); Cerebral Blood Flow (CBF); Choroid plexus (CP); Endocannabinoid system (ECS); Fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH); Monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL); N-arachidonoylethanolamine (AEA); Neurological deficits.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain Injuries*
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic* / complications
  • Endocannabinoids / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / metabolism


  • Endocannabinoids
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1