Inhibition of the endocannabinoid-regulating enzyme monoacylglycerol lipase elicits a CB1 receptor-mediated discriminative stimulus in mice
Substantial challenges exist for investigating the cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1)-mediated discriminative stimulus effects of the endocannabinoids, 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) and N-arachidonoylethanolamine (anandamide; AEA), compared with exogenous CB1 receptor agonists, such as Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and the synthetic cannabinoid CP55,940. Specifically, each is rapidly degraded by the respective hydrolytic enzymes, monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL) and fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH). Whereas MAGL inhibitors partially substitute for THC and fully substitute for CP55,940, FAAH inhibitors do not substitute for either drug. Interestingly, combined FAAH-MAGL inhibition results in full THC substitution, and the dual FAAH-MAGL inhibitor SA-57 serves as its own discriminative training stimulus. Because MAGL inhibitors fully substitute for SA-57, we tested whether the selective MAGL inhibitor MJN110 would serve as a training stimulus. Twelve of 13 C57BL/6J mice learned to discriminate MJN110 from vehicle, and the CB1 receptor antagonist rimonabant dose-dependently blocked its discriminative stimulus. CP55,940, SA-57, and another MAGL inhibitor JZL184, fully substituted for MJN110. In contrast, the FAAH inhibitor PF-3845 failed to substitute for the MJN110 discriminative stimulus, but produced a 1.6 (1.1-2.2; 95% confidence interval) leftward shift in the MJN110 dose-response curve. Inhibitors of other relevant enzymes (i.e., ABHD6, COX-2) and nicotine did not engender substitution. Diazepam partially substituted for MJN110, but rimonabant failed to block this partial effect. These findings suggest that MAGL normally throttles 2-AG stimulation of CB1 receptors to a magnitude insufficient to produce cannabimimetic subjective effects. Accordingly, inhibitors of this enzyme may release this endogenous brake producing effects akin to those produced by exogenously administered cannabinoids.