Expression of cannabinoid CB1 receptors by vagal afferent neurons: Kinetics and role in influencing neurochemical phenotype

Galina Burdyga, Andrea Varro, Rod Dimaline, David G. Thompson, Graham J. Dockray

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The intestinal hormone cholecystokinin (CCK) inhibits food intake via stimulation of vagal afferent neurons (VAN). Recent studies suggest that CCK also regulates the expression of some G protein-coupled receptors and neuropeptide transmitters in these neurons. The aim of the present study was to characterize the expression of cannabinoid (CB)1 receptors in VAN and to determine whether stimulation of these receptors plays a role in regulating neurochemical phenotype. Expression of CB1 in rat VAN was detectable by in situ hybridization or immunohistochemistry after 6 h of fasting and increased to a maximum after 24 h when ∼50% of neurons in the mid and caudal regions expressed the receptor. Melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH)1 receptors also increased with fasting, but the changes were delayed compared with CB1; in contrast Y2 receptors (Y2R) exhibited reciprocal changes in expression to CB1. Administration of CCK8s (10 nmol ip) to fasted rats decreased expression of CB1 with a t1/2 of ∼1 h compared with 3 h for MCH1. The action of CCK8s was inhibited by ghrelin and orexin-A. The CB1 agonist anandamide (intraperitoneally) reversed the effect of CCK8s on CB1, MCH1, and Y2 receptor expression. In contrast, in rats fasted for 18 h, administration of a CB1 antagonist/inverse agonist (AM281 ip) downregulated CB1 expression and increased Y2 receptor expression. Activation of vagal CB1 receptors therefore influences the neurochemical phenotype of these neurons, indicating a new and hitherto unrecognized role for endocannabinoids in gut-brain signaling. Copyright © 2010 the American Physiological Society.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)G63-G69
    JournalAJP: Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010


    • Cholecystokinin
    • Endocannabinoid
    • Melanin-concentrating hormone-1 receptor
    • Nodose ganglion
    • Y2 receptor


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