Potent dual MAGL/FAAH inhibitor AKU-005 engages endocannabinoids to diminish meningeal nociception implicated in migraine pain

J Headache Pain. 2023 Apr 11;24(1):38. doi: 10.1186/s10194-023-01568-3.


Background: Engaging the endocannabinoid system through inhibition of monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL) and fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), degrading endocannabinoids (endoCBs) 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) and anandamide (AEA), was proposed as a promising approach to ameliorate migraine pain. However, the activity of MAGL and FAAH and action of endoCB on spiking activity of meningeal afferents, from which migraine pain originates, has not been explored thus far. Therefore, we here explored the analgesic effects of endoCB enhancement in rat and human meningeal tissues.

Methods: Both MAGL and FAAH activity and local 2-AG and AEA levels were measured by activity-based protein profiling (ABPP) and LC-MS/MS, respectively, in rat meninges obtained from hemiskulls of P38-P40 Wistar rats and human meninges from elderly patients undergoing non-migraine related neurosurgery. The action on endoCBs upon administration of novel dual MAGL/FAAH inhibitor AKU-005 on meningeal afferents excitability was tested by investigating paired KCl-induced spiking and validation with local (co-)application of either AEA or 2-AG. Finally, the specific TRPV1 agonist capsaicin and blocker capsazepine were tested.

Results: The basal level of 2-AG exceeded that of AEA in rat and human meninges. KCl-induced depolarization doubled the level of AEA. AKU-005 slightly increased spontaneous spiking activity whereas the dual MAGL/FAAH inhibitor significantly decreased excitation of nerve fibres induced by KCl. Similar inhibitory effects on meningeal afferents were observed with local applications of 2-AG or AEA. The action of AKU-005 was reversed by CB1 antagonist AM-251, implying CB1 receptor involvement in the anti-nociceptive effect. The inhibitory action of AEA was also reversed by AM-251, but not with the TRPV1 antagonist capsazepine. Data cluster analysis revealed that both AKU-005 and AEA largely increased long-term depression-like meningeal spiking activity upon paired KCl-induced spiking.

Conclusions: In the meninges, high anti-nociceptive 2-AG levels can tonically counteract meningeal signalling, whereas AEA can be engaged on demand by local depolarization. AEA-mediated anti-nociceptive effects through CB1 receptors have therapeutic potential. Together with previously detected MAGL activity in trigeminal ganglia, dual MAGL/FAAH inhibitor AKU-005 appears promising as migraine treatment.

Keywords: 2-arachidonoylglycerol; Anandamide; Headache; Neuronal firing.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Amidohydrolases / metabolism
  • Amidohydrolases / therapeutic use
  • Animals
  • Carbamates / pharmacology
  • Carbamates / therapeutic use
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Endocannabinoids* / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Migraine Disorders* / drug therapy
  • Monoacylglycerol Lipases / metabolism
  • Monoglycerides / therapeutic use
  • Nociception
  • Pain / drug therapy
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry


  • Endocannabinoids
  • fatty-acid amide hydrolase
  • Monoglycerides
  • capsazepine
  • Carbamates
  • Amidohydrolases
  • Monoacylglycerol Lipases