Role for neuronal nitric-oxide synthase in cannabinoid-induced neurogenesis.

Cannabinoids, acting through the CB1 cannabinoid receptor (CB1R), protect the brain against ischemia and related forms of injury. This may involve inhibiting the neurotoxicity of endogenous excitatory amino acids and downstream effectors, such as nitric oxide (NO). Cannabinoids also stimulate neurogenesis in the adult brain through activation of CB1R. Because NO has been implicated in neurogenesis, we investigated whether cannabinoid-induced neurogenesis, like cannabinoid neuroprotection, might be mediated through alterations in NO production. Accordingly, we measured neurogenesis in dentate gyrus (DG) and subventricular zone (SVZ) of CB1R-knockout (KO) and wild-type mice, some of whom were treated with the cannabinoid agonist R(+)-Win 55212-2 [(+)-[2,3-dihydro-5-methyl-3-[(morpholinyl)methyl]pyrrolo[1,2,3-de]-1,4-benzoxazin-yl]-(1-naphthalenyl)methanone] or the NO synthase (NOS) inhibitor 7-nitroindazole (7-NI). NOS activity was increased by approximately 25%, whereas bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) labeling of newborn cells in DG and SVZ was reduced by approximately 50% in CB1R-KO compared with wild-type mice. 7-NI increased BrdU labeling in both DG and SVZ and to a greater extent in CB1R-KO than in wild-type mice. In addition, R(+)-Win 55212-2 and 7-NI enhanced BrdU incorporation into neuron-enriched cerebral cortical cultures to a similar maximal extent and in nonadditive fashion, consistent with a shared mechanism of action. Double-label confocal microscopy showed coexpression of BrdU and the neuronal lineage


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