Elevating levels of the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol blunts opioid reward but not analgesia.

TitleElevating levels of the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol blunts opioid reward but not analgesia.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2024
AuthorsMartinez-Rivera A, Fetcho RN, Birmingham L, Jiu JX, Yang R, Foord C, Scala-Chávez D, Mekawy N, Pleil K, Pickel VM, Liston C, Castorena CM, Levitz J, Pan Y-X, Briand LA, Rajadhyaksha AM, Lee FS
Date Published2024 Apr 02

Converging findings have established that the endocannabinoid (eCB) system serves as a possible target for the development of new treatments for pain as a complement to opioid-based treatments. Here we show in male and female mice that enhancing levels of the eCB, 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), through pharmacological inhibition of its catabolic enzyme, monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL), either systemically or in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) with JZL184, leads to a substantial attenuation of the rewarding effects of opioids in male and female mice using conditioned place preference and self-administration paradigms, without altering their analgesic properties. These effects are driven by CB1 receptors (CB1Rs) within the VTA as VTA CB1R conditional knockout, counteracts JZL184's effects. Conversely, pharmacologically enhancing the levels of the other eCB, anandamide (AEA), by inhibition of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) has no effect on opioid reward or analgesia. Using fiber photometry with fluorescent sensors for calcium and dopamine (DA), we find that enhancing 2-AG levels diminishes opioid reward-related nucleus accumbens (NAc) activity and DA neurotransmission. Together these findings reveal that 2-AG counteracts the rewarding properties of opioids and provides a potential adjunctive therapeutic strategy for opioid-related analgesic treatments.

Alternate JournalbioRxiv
PubMed ID38766079
PubMed Central IDPMC11101127