The endocannabinoids and their attending CB1 cannabinoid receptors have been implicated in the control of cognition, but their possible roles in dementias are still unclear. In the present study, we used liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry to conduct an endocannabinoid-targeted lipidomic analysis of post mortem brain samples from 38 Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients and 17 control subjects, matched for age and post mortem interval. The analysis revealed that midfrontal and temporal cortex tissue from AD patients contains, relative to control subjects, significantly lower levels of the endocannabinoid anandamide and its precursor 1-stearoyl, 2-docosahexaenoyl-sn-glycero-phosphoethanolamine-N-arachidonoyl (NArPE). No such difference was observed with the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoyl-sn-glycerol or 15 additional lipid species. In AD patients, but not in control subjects, statistically detectable positive correlations were found between (a) anandamide content in midfrontal cortex and scores of the Kendrick’s digit copying test (P=0.004, r=0.81; n=10), which measures speed of information processing; and (b) anandamide content in temporal cortex and scores of the Boston naming test (P=0.027, r=0.52; n=18), which assesses language facility. Furthermore, anandamide and NArPE levels in midfrontal cortex of the study subjects inversely correlated with levels of the neurotoxic amyloid peptide, Aβ42, while showing no association with Aβ40 levels, amyloid plaque load or tau protein phosphorylation. Finally, high endogenous levels of Aβ42 in APPSWE/Neuro-2a cells directly reduced anandamide and NArPE concentrations in cells lysates. The results suggest that an Aβ42-dependent impairment in brain anandamide mobilization contributes to cognitive dysfunction in AD.
endocannabinoid; anandamide; amyloid β42; cognitive dysfunction; Alzheimer’s disease; human brain; lipidomics
The endocannabinoid system plays a critical role in the control of energy homeostasis, but the identity and localization of the endocannabinoid signal involved remain unknown. In the present study we developed transgenic mice that over-express in forebrain neurons the presynaptic hydrolase, monoacylglycerol lipase (MGL), which deactivates the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoyl-sn-glycerol (2-AG). MGL-overexpressing mice show a 50 percent decrease in forebrain 2-AG levels, but no overt compensation in other endocannabinoid components. This biochemical abnormality is accompanied by a series of metabolic changes that include leanness, elevated energy cost of activity and hypersensitivity to β3-adrenergic-stimulated thermogenesis, which is corrected by reinstating 2-AG activity at CB1-cannabinoid receptors. Additionally, the mutant mice are resistant to diet-induced obesity and express high levels of thermogenic proteins, such as uncoupling protein-1, in their brown adipose tissue. The results suggest that 2-AG signaling through CB1 regulates the activity of forebrain neural circuits involved in the control of energy dissipation.
Preclinical and clinical evidence suggests that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid derived from diet or synthesized in the liver, decreases the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease (AD). DHA levels are reduced in the brain of subjects with AD, but it is still unclear whether human dementias are associated with dysregulations of DHA metabolism. A systems biological view of omega-3 fatty acid metabolism offered unexpected insights on the regulation of DHA homeostasis in AD1. Results of multi-organ lipidomic analyses were integrated with clinical and gene-expression data sets to develop testable hypotheses on the functional significance of lipid abnormalities observed and on their possible mechanistic bases. One surprising outcome of this integrative approach was the discovery that the liver of AD patients has a limited capacity to convert shorter chain omega-3 fatty acids into DHA due to a deficit in the peroxisomal D-bifunctional protein. This deficit may contribute to the decrease in brain DHA levels and contribute to cognitive impairment.
Despite several recent studies suggesting that dysregulation of brain lipid metabolism might contribute to the mechanisms of aging and Alzheimer’s disease (AD), lipid metabolism has not been evaluated extensively in the aging brain. Here, we use a lipidomic approach to demonstrate that antioxidants plus mitochondrial cofactors treatment, either alone or in combination with behavioral enrichment, attenuates lipid abnormalities in the frontal cortices of aged canine in a manner correlated with cognitive scores. Our analyses revealed that the levels of free palmitoleic acid and nervonic acid were decreased in frontal cortices of aged dogs (n=5-6/group) treated with antioxidant compared to the control group. The monounsaturated/saturated fatty acid ratio, also known as ‘desaturation index’ - an ex-vivo indicator of stearoyl-CoA desaturase activity, was also reduced in the frontal cortex of dogs treated with antioxidants compared to control groups. Increased palmitoleic acid levels and desaturation index were positively correlated with increased reversal learning errors and decreased cognitive performance. In conclusion, our study indicates that the addition of antioxidants and mitochondrial cofactors to the regular diet alters the composition of free fatty acids in the aged brain. Together with data showing increased palmitoleic acid levels in AD patients, our data suggest that reducing palmitoleic acid levels and desaturation index in the brain may be associated with improved cognitive performance.
Lipids; canine; aging; Alzheimer’s disease; SCD; frontal cortex
Evidence shows that the endocannabinoid system modulates the addictive properties of nicotine. In the present study, we hypothesized that spontaneous withdrawal resulting from removal of chronically implanted transdermal nicotine patches is regulated by the endocannabinoid system. A 7-day nicotine dependence procedure (5.2 mg/rat/day) elicited occurrence of reliable nicotine abstinence symptoms in Wistar rats. Somatic and affective withdrawal signs were observed at 16 and 34 hours following removal of nicotine patches, respectively. Further behavioral manifestations including decrease in locomotor activity and increased weight gain also occurred during withdrawal. Expression of spontaneous nicotine withdrawal was accompanied by fluctuation in levels of the endocannabinoid anandamide (AEA) in several brain structures including the amygdala, the hippocampus, the hypothalamus and the prefrontal cortex. Conversely, levels of 2-arachidonoyl-sn-glycerol were not significantly altered. Pharmacological inhibition of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), the enzyme responsible for the intracellular degradation of AEA, by URB597 (0.1 and 0.3 mg/kg, i.p.), reduced withdrawal-induced anxiety as assessed by the elevated plus maze test and the shock-probe defensive burying paradigm, but did not prevent the occurrence of somatic signs. Together, the results indicate that pharmacological strategies aimed at enhancing endocannabinoid signaling may offer therapeutic advantages to treat the negative affective state produced by nicotine withdrawal, which is critical for the maintenance of tobacco use.
The molecular bases of Alzheimer's disease (AD) remain unclear. We used a lipidomic approach to identify lipid abnormalities in the brains of subjects with AD (N = 37) compared to age-matched controls (N = 17). The analyses revealed statistically detectable elevations in levels of non-esterified monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and mead acid (20:3n-9) in mid-frontal cortex, temporal cortex and hippocampus of AD patients. Further studies showed that brain mRNAs encoding for isoforms of the rate-limiting enzyme in MUFAs biosynthesis, stearoyl-CoA desaturase (SCD-1, SCD-5a and SCD-5b), were elevated in subjects with AD. The monounsaturated/saturated fatty acid ratio (‘desaturation index’) – displayed a strong negative correlation with measures of cognition: the Mini Mental State Examination test (r = −0.80; P = 0.0001) and the Boston Naming test (r = −0.57; P = 0.0071). Our results reveal a previously unrecognized role for the lipogenic enzyme SCD in AD.
Ingestion of dietary fat stimulates production of the small-intestinal satiety factors oleoylethanolamide (OEA) and N-palmitoyl-phosphatidylethanolamine (NPPE), which reduce food intake through a combination of local (OEA) and systemic (NPPE) actions. Previous studies have shown that sympathetic innervation of the gut is necessary for duodenal infusions of fat to induce satiety, suggesting that sympathetic activity may engage small-intestinal satiety signals such as OEA and NPPE. In the present study, we show that surgical resection of the sympathetic celiac superior mesenteric ganglion, which sends projections to the upper gut, abolishes feeding-induced OEA production in rat small-intestinal cells. These effects are accounted for by suppression of OEA biosynthesis, and are mimicked by administration of the selective β2-adrenergic receptor antagonist, ICI-118,551. We further show that sympathetic ganglionectomy or pharmacological blockade of β2-adrenergic receptors prevents NPPE release into the circulation. In addition, sympathetic ganglionectomy increases meal frequency and lowers satiety ratio, and these effects are corrected by pharmacological administration of OEA. The results suggest that sympathetic activity controls fat-induced satiety by enabling the coordinated production of local (OEA) and systemic (NPPE) satiety signals in the small intestine.
Oleoylethanolamide; N-palmitoyl-phosphatidylethanolamine; sympathetic; feeding
Lifestyle interventions such as diet, exercise, and cognitive training represent a quietly emerging revolution in the modern approach to counteracting age-related declines in brain health. Previous studies in our laboratory have shown that long-term dietary supplementation with antioxidants and mitochondrial cofactors (AOX) or behavioral enrichment with social, cognitive, and exercise components (ENR), can effectively improve cognitive performance and reduce brain pathology of aged canines, including oxidative damage and Aβ accumulation. In this study, we build on and extend our previous findings by investigating if the interventions reduce caspase activation and ceramide accumulation in the aged frontal cortex, since caspase activation and ceramide accumulation are common convergence points for oxidative damage and Aβ, among other factors associated with the aged and AD brain. Aged beagles were placed into one of four treatment groups: CON – control environment/control diet, AOX– control environment/antioxidant diet, ENR – enriched environment/control diet, AOX/ENR– enriched environment/antioxidant diet for 2.8 years. Following behavioral testing, brains were removed and frontal cortices were analyzed to monitor levels of active caspase 3, active caspase 9 and their respective cleavage products such as tau and semaphorin7a, and ceramides. Our results show that levels of activated caspase-3 were reduced by ENR and AOX interventions with the largest reduction occurring with combined AOX/ENR group. Further, reductions in caspase-3 correlated with reduced errors in a reversal learning task, which depends on frontal cortex function. In addition, animals treated with an AOX arm showed reduced numbers of cells expressing active caspase 9 or its cleavage product semaphorin 7A, while ENR (but not AOX) reduced ceramide levels. Overall, these data demonstrate that lifestyle interventions curtail activation of pro-degenerative pathways to improve cellular health and are the first to show that lifestyle interventions can regulate caspase pathways in a higher animal model of aging.
Oleoylethanolamide (OEA) is an endogenous lipid mediator that decreases food intake and enhances lipid catabolism. Dietary fat stimulates OEA mobilization in the proximal small intestine, through a mechanism that requires the participation of the membrane glycoprotein CD36 (fatty acid translocase, FAT). CD36 is highly expressed in small-intestinal enterocytes and is involved in fatty acid uptake and intracellular signaling. Here, we analyze the impact of genetic CD36 deletion on OEA production in various mouse tissues under free-feeding conditions and at different times of the light/dark cycle. CD36 ablation decreases OEA levels in jejunum and plasma during the dark phase, when mice consume most of their daily food. CD36 deletion is also associated with reduced OEA levels in kidney, but not in other tissues including duodenum, stomach, adrenals, white and brown fat, heart, liver, pancreas, skeletal muscle and brain. The results underscore the important role of CD36 in jejunal OEA production linked to feeding.
CD36; feeding; oleoylethanolamide; small intestine
The endocannabinoids are signaling lipids present in many living organisms. They activate G protein-coupled cannabinoid receptors to modulate a broad range of biological processes that include emotion, cognition, inflammation and reproduction. The endocannabinoids are embedded in an interconnected network of cellular lipid pathways, the regulation of which is likely to control the strength and duration of endocannabinoid signals. Therefore, physiopathological or pharmacological perturbations of these pathways may indirectly affect endocannabinoid activity and, vice versa, endocannabinoid activity may influence lipid pathways involved in other metabolic and signaling events. Recent progress in liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry has fueled the development of targeted lipidomic approaches, which allow researchers to examine complex lipid interactions in cells and gain a broader view of the endocannabinoid system. Here, we review these new developments from the perspective of our laboratory’s experience in the field.
lipidomics; anandamide; 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG); N-acyl phosphatidylethanolamine (NAPE); fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH); diacylglycerol (DAG); triacylglycerol (TAG); arachidonic acid; prostaglandin
Reduced brain levels of docosahexaenoic acid (C22:6n-3), a neurotrophic and neuroprotective fatty acid, may contribute to cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease. Here, we investigated whether the liver enzyme system that provides docosahexaenoic acid to the brain is dysfunctional in this disease. Docosahexaenoic acid levels were reduced in temporal cortex, mid-frontal cortex and cerebellum of subjects with Alzheimer's disease, compared to control subjects (P = 0.007). Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) scores positively correlated with docosahexaenoic/α-linolenic ratios in temporal cortex (P = 0.005) and mid-frontal cortex (P = 0.018), but not cerebellum. Similarly, liver docosahexaenoic acid content was lower in Alzheimer's disease patients than control subjects (P = 0.011). Liver docosahexaenoic/α-linolenic ratios correlated positively with MMSE scores (r = 0.78; P<0.0001), and negatively with global deterioration scale grades (P = 0.013). Docosahexaenoic acid precursors, including tetracosahexaenoic acid (C24:6n-3), were elevated in liver of Alzheimer's disease patients (P = 0.041), whereas expression of peroxisomal d-bifunctional protein, which catalyzes the conversion of tetracosahexaenoic acid into docosahexaenoic acid, was reduced (P = 0.048). Other genes involved in docosahexaenoic acid metabolism were not affected. The results indicate that a deficit in d-bifunctional protein activity impairs docosahexaenoic acid biosynthesis in liver of Alzheimer's disease patients, lessening the flux of this neuroprotective fatty acid to the brain.
The aim of this study was to search for lipid signatures in blood plasma from cystic fibrosis (CF) patients using a novel MALDI-TOF-ClinProTools™ strategy, initially developed for protein analysis, and thin layer chromatography coupled to MALDI-TOF (TLC-MALDI). Samples from 33 CF patients and 18 healthy children were subjected to organic extraction and column chromatography separation of lipid classes. Extracts were analyzed by MALDI-TOF, ion signatures were compared by the ClinProTools™ software and by parallel statistical analyses. Relevant peaks were identified by LC-MSn. The ensemble of analyses provided 11 and 4 peaks differentially displayed in CF vs healthy and in mild vs severe patients respectively. Ten ions were significantly decreased in all patients, corresponding to 4 lysophosphatidylcholine (18∶0, 18∶2, 20∶3, and 20∶5) and 6 phosphatidylcholine (36∶5, O-38∶0, 38∶4, 38∶5, 38∶6, and P-40∶1) species. One sphingolipid, SM(d18∶0), was significantly increased in all patients. Four PC forms (36∶3, 36∶5, 38∶5, and 38∶6) were consistently downregulated in severe vs mild patients. These observations were confirmed by TLC-MALDI. These results suggest that plasma phospholipid signatures may be able to discriminate mild and severe forms of CF, and show for the first time MALDI-TOF-ClinProTools™ as a suitable methodology for the search of lipid markers in CF.
An endocannabinoid signaling system has not been identified in hamsters.
We examined the existence of an endocannabinioid signaling system in Syrian hamsters using neuroanatomical, biochemical and behavioral pharmacological approaches.
The distribution of cannabinoid receptors was mapped and membrane fatty-acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) activity and levels of fatty-acid amides were measured in hamster brain. The impact of cannabinoid CB1 receptor blockade and inhibition of FAAH was evaluated in the elevated plus maze, rota-rod test and models of unconditioned and conditioned social defeat.
A characteristic heterogeneous distribution of cannabinoid receptors was detected in hamster brain using [3H]CP55,940 binding and autoradiography. The FAAH inhibitor URB597 inhibited FAAH activity (IC50 = 12.8 nM) and elevated levels of fatty-acid amides (N-palmitoyl ethanolamine (PEA) and N-oleoyl ethanolamine (OEA)) in hamster brain. Anandamide levels were not reliably altered. The cannabinoid agonist WIN55,212-2 (1– 10 mg/kg i.p.) induced CB1-mediated motor ataxia. Blockade of CB1 with rimonabant (5 mg/kg i.p.) induced anxiogenic-like behavior in the elevated plus maze. URB597 (0.1–0.3 mg/kg i.p.) induced CB1-mediated anxiolytic-like effects in elevated plus maze, similar to the benzodiazepine diazepam (2 mg/kg i.p.). Diazepam (2–6 mg/kg i.p.) suppressed the expression, but not the acquisition, of conditioned defeat. By contrast, neither URB597 (0.3–3.0 mg/kg i.p.) nor rimonabant (5 mg/kg i.p.) altered unconditioned or conditioned social defeat or rota-rod performance.
Endocannabinoids engage functional CB1 receptors in hamster brain to suppress anxiety-like behavior and undergo enzymatic hydrolysis catalyzed by FAAH. Our results further suggest that neither unconditioned nor conditioned social defeat in the Syrian hamster is dependent upon cannabinoid CB1 receptor activation.
Cannabinoids; conditioned defeat; social defeat; elevated plus maze; anxiety; FAAH
The association between fat consumption and obesity underscores the need to identify physiological signals that control fat intake. Previous studies have shown that feeding stimulates small-intestinal mucosal cells to produce the lipid messenger oleoylethanolamide (OEA) which, when administered as a drug, decreases meal frequency by engaging peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors-α (PPAR-α). Here we report that duodenal infusion of fat stimulates OEA mobilization in the proximal small intestine, whereas infusion of protein or carbohydrate does not. OEA production utilizes dietary oleic acid as a substrate and is disrupted in mutant mice lacking the membrane fatty-acid transporter CD36. Targeted disruption of CD36 or PPAR-α abrogates the satiety response induced by fat. The results suggest that activation of small-intestinal OEA mobilization, enabled by CD36-mediated uptake of dietary oleic acid, serves as a molecular sensor linking fat ingestion to satiety.
The N-aryl carbamate URB602 (biphenyl-3-ylcarbamic acid cyclohexyl ester) is an inhibitor of monoacylglycerol lipase (MGL), a serine hydrolase involved in the biological deactivation of the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoyl-sn-glycerol (2-AG). Here, we investigated the mechanism by which URB602 inhibits purified recombinant rat MGL using a combination of biochemical and structure-activity relationship (SAR) approaches. We found that URB602 weakly inhibits recombinant MGL (IC50 = 223±63 μM) through a rapid and noncompetitive mechanism. Dialysis experiments and SAR analyses suggest that URB602 acts through a partially reversible mechanism rather than by irreversible carbamoylation of MGL. Finally, URB602 (100 μM) elevates 2-AG levels in hippocampal slice cultures without affecting levels of other endocannabinoid-related substances. Thus, URB602 may provide a useful tool to investigate the physiological roles of 2-AG and explore the potential interest of MGL as a therapeutic target.
Oleoylethanolamide (OEA) is a lipid mediator that inhibits food intake by activating the nuclear receptor peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor- α (PPAR-α). In the rodent small intestine, OEA levels decrease during food deprivation and increase upon refeeding, suggesting that endogenous OEA may participate in the regulation of satiety. Here we show that feeding stimulates OEA mobilization in the mucosal layer of rat duodenum and jejunum, but not in the serosal layer from the same intestinal segments, in other sections of the gastrointestinal tract (stomach, ileum, colon), or in a broad series of internal organs and tissues (e.g., liver, brain, heart, plasma). Feeding also increases the levels of other unsaturated fatty-acid ethanolamides (FAEs) (e.g., linoleoylethanolamide) without affecting those of saturated FAEs (e.g., palmitoylethanolamide). Feeding-induced OEA mobilization is accompanied by enhanced accumulation of OEA-generating N-acyl phosphatidylethanolamines (NAPEs), increased activity and expression of the OEA-synthesizing enzyme NAPE-phospholipase D (NAPE-PLD), and decreased activity and expression of the OEA-degrading enzyme fatty-acid amide hydrolase (FAAH). Immunostaining studies revealed that NAPE-PLD and FAAH are expressed in intestinal enterocytes and lamina propria cells. Collectively, these results indicate that nutrient availability controls OEA mobilization in the mucosa of the proximal intestine through a concerted regulation of OEA biosynthesis and degradation.