4'-O-methylhonokiol increases levels of 2-arachidonoyl glycerol in mouse brain via selective inhibition of its COX-2-mediated oxygenation

Chicca, Andrea; Gachet Otanez, Maria Salomé; Petrucci, Vanessa; Schuehly, Wolfgang; Charles, Roch-Philippe; Gertsch, Jürg (2015). 4'-O-methylhonokiol increases levels of 2-arachidonoyl glycerol in mouse brain via selective inhibition of its COX-2-mediated oxygenation. Journal of neuroinflammation, 12, p. 89. BioMed Central 10.1186/s12974-015-0307-7

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BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE 4'-O-methylhonokiol (MH) is a natural product showing anti-inflammatory, anti-osteoclastogenic, and neuroprotective effects. MH was reported to modulate cannabinoid CB2 receptors as an inverse agonist for cAMP production and an agonist for intracellular [Ca2+]. It was recently shown that MH inhibits cAMP formation via CB2 receptors. In this study, the exact modulation of MH on CB2 receptor activity was elucidated and its endocannabinoid substrate-specific inhibition (SSI) of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and CNS bioavailability are described for the first time. METHODS CB2 receptor modulation ([35S]GTPγS, cAMP, and β-arrestin) by MH was measured in hCB2-transfected CHO-K1 cells and native conditions (HL60 cells and mouse spleen). The COX-2 SSI was investigated in RAW264.7 cells and in Swiss albino mice by targeted metabolomics using LC-MS/MS. RESULTS MH is a CB2 receptor agonist and a potent COX-2 SSI. It induced partial agonism in both the [35S]GTPγS binding and β-arrestin recruitment assays while being a full agonist in the cAMP pathway. MH selectively inhibited PGE2 glycerol ester formation (over PGE2) in RAW264.7 cells and significantly increased the levels of 2-AG in mouse brain in a dose-dependent manner (3 to 20 mg kg(-1)) without affecting other metabolites. After 7 h from intraperitoneal (i.p.) injection, MH was quantified in significant amounts in the brain (corresponding to 200 to 300 nM). CONCLUSIONS LC-MS/MS quantification shows that MH is bioavailable to the brain and under condition of inflammation exerts significant indirect effects on 2-AG levels. The biphenyl scaffold might serve as valuable source of dual CB2 receptor modulators and COX-2 SSIs as demonstrated by additional MH analogs that show similar effects. The combination of CB2 agonism and COX-2 SSI offers a yet unexplored polypharmacology with expected synergistic effects in neuroinflammatory diseases, thus providing a rationale for the diverse neuroprotective effects reported for MH in animal models.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine

UniBE Contributor:

Chicca, Andrea; Gachet Otanez, Maria Salomé; Petrucci, Vanessa; Charles, Roch-Philippe and Gertsch, Jürg


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




BioMed Central




Barbara Järmann-Bangerter

Date Deposited:

01 Mar 2016 13:54

Last Modified:

01 Mar 2016 13:54

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