BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE Endometriosis is a disorder in which the endometrium forms growths outside the uterus and is associated with chronic pain. Recent evidence suggests that endometrial motility plays a role in the aetiology of endometriosis. The endocannabinoid system regulates cellular migration. Given the growing involvement of the endocannabinoids in reproduction, we investigated the role of the endocannabinoid system in migration of endometrial cells.
EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH Migration of the human endometrial HEC-1B cells was assayed. Standard PCR techniques were used to determine the presence of the GPCR, GPR18, in HEC-1B cells, and p44/42 MAPK was assayed in stably transfected HEK293-GPR18 cells to determine receptor specificity for known cannabinoid agonists and antagonists. N-arachidonoyl ethanolamine (AEA) metabolism was measured, using HPLC/MS/MS for lipid analysis.
KEY RESULTS AEA, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) and N-arachidonoyl glycine (NAGly) induce migration of HEC-1B cells through cannabinoid CB1 receptor-independent mechanisms. MAPK activation in HEK293-GPR18 cells revealed novel pharmacology for known CB1 and CB2 receptor ligands at GPR18 receptors, including Δ9-THC, which activates MAPK at nanomolar concentrations, whereas WIN 55212-2, CP55940, JWH-133 and JWH-015, and arachidonyl-1-hydroxy-2-propylamide (R1-methanandamide) had no effect. Moreover, HEC-1B migration and MAPK activation by NAGly and Δ9-THC were antagonized by Pertussis toxin, AM251 and cannabidiol.
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS An understanding of the function and regulation of GPR18 and its molecular interactions with endogenous ligands, and how phytocannabinoids play a role with GPR18 signalling is vital if we are to comprehensively assess the function of the cannabinoid signalling system in human health and disease.
LINKED ARTICLES This article is commented on by Alexander, pp. 2411–2413 of this issue and is part of a themed section on Cannabinoids in Biology and Medicine. To view Alexander visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01731.x. To view the other articles in this section visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bph.2012.165.issue-8. To view Part I of Cannabinoids in Biology and Medicine visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bph.2011.163.issue-7