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Keywords:

  • cannabinoid receptors;
  • gastrointestinal motility;
  • radiology;
  • rat

Abstract

Background  In the absence of pathology, cannabinoid-induced depression of gastrointestinal (GI) motility is thought to be mediated primarily by CB1 receptors, whereas the role of CB2 receptors is still unclear. The aim of this work was to radiographically analyze the acute effect of the mixed cannabinoid agonist WIN 55,212-2 (WIN) on GI motor function in the rat, focusing on the involvement of CB1 and CB2 receptors.

Methods  Male Wistar rats received different doses of WIN and both psychoactivity (cannabinoid tetrad) and GI motility (radiographic analysis) were tested. The duration of WIN effect on GI motility was also radiographically analyzed. Finally, the involvement of the different cannabinoid receptors on WIN-induced alterations of GI motility was analyzed by the previous administration of selective CB1 (AM251) and CB2 (SR144528 or AM630) antagonists. After administration of contrast medium, alterations in GI motility were quantitatively evaluated in serial radiographs by assigning a compounded value to each region of the GI tract.

Key Results  Low, analgesic doses of WIN delayed intestinal transit, but high, psychoactive doses were required to delay gastric emptying. Acute WIN effects on GI motility were confined to the first few hours after administration. AM251 partially counteracted the effect of WIN on GI motility. Surprisingly, SR144528 (but not AM630) enhanced WIN-induced delayed gastric emptying.

Conclusions & Inferences  X-ray analyses confirm that cannabinoids inhibit GI motility via CB1 receptors; in addition, cannabinoids could influence motility through interaction with a SR144528-sensitive site. Further studies are needed to verify if such site of action is the CB2 receptor.