Navigation Links
Newly discovered mechanism controls levels and efficacy of a marijuana-like substance in the brain
Date:8/6/2010

A newly discovered molecular mechanism helps control the amount and effectiveness of a substance that mimics an active ingredient in marijuana, but that is produced by the body's own nerve cells.

The results were reported in the latest Nature Neuroscience. The lead author on the study is William R. Marrs of the Neurobiology and Behavior program at the University of Washington (UW). The senior author is Dr. Nephi Stella, UW professor of pharmacology and psychiatry.

In previous papers, Stella and other scientists have noted that the body manufactures several cell signals that mimic the actions of marijuana-derived chemicals These signals are called endocannabinoids, a Latin-derived name for marijuana-like (cannabis) constituents created by the body's own cells (endo).

Marrs, Stella and their research team study endocannabinoids, their receptors on cells, and the cell functions controlled by these signals.

They hope their future work encourages the design of therapies to modulate these molecular communications. Specifically targeted treatments, for example, might give cancer and AIDS patients the same medicinal benefits as marijuana without its mind-altering properties.

Because cannabinoid signaling systems are common throughout the body and affect a variety of functions, therapies aimed at these systems might be more wide-ranging than simply a better substitute for medicinal marijuana. Stella is especially interest in the potential for helping people with conditions for which even symptomatic treatment is limited or non-existent, such as multiple sclerosis, brain tumors, Huntington's disease and other autoimmune or neurological disorders.

Earlier Stella's group discovered a key endocannabinoid, called 2-AG, that carries a type of messaging between brain cells. 2-AG is also implicated in brain cell migration and brain tissue inflammation. It does this by activating one type of cannabinoid receptor on neurons, and another type of cannabinoid receptor on microglia, the tiny cells that clean up debris, like damaged nerve cells and plaque, in the brain and spinal cord. As the brain's first line of defense against infection, microglia are attune to the most subtle clues suggesting an attack.

Stella's team further investigated 2-AG nerve cell signaling in the study just published in Nature Neuroscience. They looked at an enzyme called ABHD6, newly identified by other scientists using advanced protein profiling technology, also known as proteomics. ABHD6 is present in nerve cells in the brain.

Stella's team observed that this enzyme degrades the 2-AG nerve signaling substance by splitting it with water. This happens near the cell receptor for the 2-AG signal.

Breaking apart 2-AG reduced its accumulation and decreased its ability to prod other cells to action. In this case, the broken down 2-AG was less effective in stimulating the microglia the brain defenders -- to get moving.

The results provided by their study, the authors said, suggest that the enzyme ABDH6 "is a bona fide member of the endocannabinoid signaling system."

"The enzymatic steps that control the production and inactivation of endocannabinoids constitute promising molecular targets for indirectly modulating the activity of cannabinoid receptors," the authors noted. Designing treatments that manage the production and inactivation of important enzymes like ABHD6 could thereby control such conditions as brain inflammation or overactive brain signals. Other enzymes are involved in controlling the accumulation of different endocannabinoids.

Each of these enzymes, the researchers pointed out, provides a unique therapeutic opportunity. Inhibiting distinct enzymes would allow for the fine-tuned direction of endocannabinoid signaling. For example, blocking a specific enzyme to heighten a certain signal might ameliorate pain and also act as anti-anxiety and antidepressant therapy, the authors explained. Drugs that reduce the activity of the ABDH6 enzyme might prevent brain damage from an overactive response to a virus.


'/>"/>

Contact: Leila Gray
leilag@u.washington.edu
205-685-0381
University of Washington
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Rare carnivorous plant on top 10 list of newly discovered species
2. Newly discovered kinase regulates cytoskeleton, and perhaps holds key to how cancer cells spread
3. Newly discovered gene variants lead to autism and mental retardation
4. Newly identified growth factor promotes stem cell growth, regeneration
5. MSU scientists unlock key enzyme using newly created cool method
6. Parasitic wasps newly sequenced genomes reveal new avenues for pest control
7. Newly identified enzymes help plants sense elevated CO2 and could lead to water-wise crops
8. Newly discovered mechanism allows cells to change state
9. Newly discovered fat molecule: An undersea killer with an upside
10. Newly found DNA catalysts cleave DNA with water molecule
11. Newly discovered gene fusion may lead to improved prostate cancer diagnosis
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Newly discovered mechanism controls levels and efficacy of a marijuana-like substance in the brain
(Date:3/23/2017)... 2017 Research and Markets has announced the ... Trends - Industry Forecast to 2025" report to their offering. ... The Global ... of around 8.8% over the next decade to reach approximately $14.21 ... market estimates and forecasts for all the given segments on global ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... 21, 2017 Optimove , provider ... retailers such as 1-800-Flowers and AdoreMe, today announced ... and Replenishment. Using Optimove,s machine learning algorithms, these ... and replenishment recommendations to their customers based not ... of customer intent drawn from a complex web ...
(Date:3/20/2017)... HANOVER, Germany , March 20, 2017 At ... Hamburg -based biometrics manufacturer DERMALOG. The Chancellor came to the ... Japan is this year,s CeBIT partner country. At the largest ... important biometrics in use: fingerprint, face and iris recognition as well as ... ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/20/2017)... -- Dutch philosopher Koert van Mensvoort - founder of the ... Technology in Eindhoven - has written a ,Letter to Humanity, in ... to avoid becoming a slave and victim to its own technology, but to ... ... Koert van Mensvoort – founder of the Next Nature Network and Fellow of ...
(Date:4/19/2017)... ... April 18, 2017 , ... A number of new instruments have ... is part of the Protein and Cell Analysis Education Webinar Series , will ... technology fits in current and future applications. , Many flow cytometers have unique ...
(Date:4/19/2017)... ... April 19, 2017 , ... ThermaGenix, ... round. This event adds to several other early achievements at ThermaGenix, including the ... Teams. , ThermaGenix will use proceeds from the Series A-1 round ...
(Date:4/19/2017)... 19, 2017  As a Bronze Sponsor ... Summit ,  Proove® Biosciences, Inc. announces the ... and lifestyle factors to accurately predict prescription opioid ... Southern California (USC), the Interventional Pain Institute in ... results showing that Proove Opioid Risk® accurately identifies ...
Breaking Biology Technology: