Characterization of cannabinoid receptor ligands in tissues natively expressing cannabinoid CB2 receptors

Pietro Marini, Maria-Grazia Cascio, Angela King, Roger G Pertwee, Ruth A Ross
British Journal of Pharmacology 2013, 169 (4): 887-99

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Although cannabinoid CB₂ receptor ligands have been widely characterized in recombinant systems in vitro, little pharmacological characterization has been performed in tissues natively expressing CB₂ receptors. The aim of this study was to compare the pharmacology of CB₂ receptor ligands in tissue natively expressing CB₂ receptors (human, rat and mouse spleen) and hCB₂-transfected CHO cells.

EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH: We tested the ability of well-known cannabinoid CB₂ receptor ligands to stimulate or inhibit [³⁵S]GTPγS binding to mouse, rat and human spleen membranes and to hCB₂-transfected CHO cell membranes. cAMP assays were also performed in hCB₂-CHO cells.

KEY RESULTS: The data presented demonstrate that: (i) CP 55,940, WIN 55,212-2 and JWH 133 behave as CB₂ receptor full agonists both in spleen and hCB₂-CHO cells, in both [³⁵S]GTPγS and cAMP assays; (ii) JWH 015 behaves as a low-efficacy agonist in spleen as well as in hCB₂-CHO cells when tested in the [³⁵S]GTPγS assay, while it displays full agonism when tested in the cAMP assay using hCB₂-CHO cells; (iii) (R)-AM 1241 and GW 405833 behave as agonists in the [³⁵S]GTPγS assay using spleen, instead it behaves as a low-efficacy inverse agonist in hCB₂-CHO cells; and (iv) SR 144528, AM 630 and JTE 907 behave as CB₂ receptor inverse agonists in all the tissues.

CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS: Our results demonstrate that CB₂ receptor ligands can display differential pharmacology when assays are conducted in tissues that natively express CB₂ receptors and imply that conclusions from recombinant CB₂ receptors should be treated with caution.

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