R(+)-methanandamide induces cyclooxygenase-2 expression in human neuroglioma cells via a non-cannabinoid receptor-mediated mechanism

R Ramer, K Brune, A Pahl, B Hinz
Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 2001 September 7, 286 (5): 1144-52
Cannabinoids affect prostaglandin (PG) formation in the central nervous system through as yet unidentified mechanisms. Using H4 human neuroglioma cells, the present study investigates the effect of R(+)-methanandamide (metabolically stable analogue of the endocannabinoid anandamide) on the expression of the cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) enzyme. Incubation of cells with R(+)-methanandamide was accompanied by concentration-dependent increases in COX-2 mRNA, COX-2 protein, and COX-2-dependent PGE(2) synthesis. Moreover, treatment of cells with R(+)-methanandamide in the presence of interleukin-1beta led to an overadditive induction of COX-2 expression. The stimulatory effect of R(+)-methanandamide on COX-2 expression was mimicked by the structurally unrelated cannabinoid Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol. Stimulation of both COX-2 mRNA expression and subsequent PGE(2) synthesis by R(+)-methanandamide was not affected by the selective CB(1) receptor antagonist AM-251 or the G(i/o) protein inactivator pertussis toxin. Enhancement of COX-2 expression by R(+)-methanandamide was paralleled by time-dependent phosphorylations of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and p42/44 MAPK. Consistent with the activation of both kinases, R(+)-methanandamide-induced COX-2 mRNA expression and PGE(2) formation were abrogated in the presence of specific inhibitors of p38 MAPK (SB203580) and p42/44 MAPK activation (PD98059). Together, our results demonstrate that R(+)-methanandamide induces COX-2 expression in human neuroglioma cells via a cannabinoid receptor-independent mechanism involving activation of the MAPK pathway. In conclusion, induction of COX-2 expression may represent a novel mechanism by which cannabinoids mediate PG-dependent effects within the central nervous system.

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