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Cultured rat microglial cells synthesize the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonylglycerol, which increases proliferation via a CB2 receptor-dependent mechanism. Mol Pharmacol 2004 Apr;65(4):999-1007 PMID: 15044630

Pubmed ID



Microglia, as phagocytes and antigen-presenting cells in the central nervous system, are activated in such disease processes as stroke and multiple sclerosis. Because peripheral macrophages are capable of producing endocannabinoids, we have examined endocannabinoid production in a macrophage-colony stimulating factor (M-CSF)-dependent rat microglial cell line (RTMGL1) using reversed phase high-pressure liquid chromatography and liquid chromatography-mass spectroscopy. We determined that cultured microglial cells produce the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonylglycerol (2-AG) as well as anandamide in smaller quantities. When 2-AG, but not anandamide, is added exogenously, RTMGL1 microglia increase their proliferation. This increased proliferation is blocked by an antagonist of the CB(2) receptor N-[(1S)endo-1,3,3-trimethyl bicyclo heptan-2-yl]-5-(4-chloro-3-methylphenyl)-1-(4-methylbenzyl)-pyrazole-3-carboxamide (SR144528) and mimicked by the CB(2) receptor-specific agonist 1,1-dimethylbutyl-1-deoxy-Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (JWH133). Accompanying the increase in proliferation seen with 2-AG is an increase in active ERK1 that is also blocked with SR144528. The RTMGL1 microglial cells, which exist in a primed state, express the CB(1) and CB(2) receptors as demonstrated by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and immunostaining. The CB(2) receptor in untreated cells is expressed both at the cell surface and internally, and exposure of the cells to 2-AG significantly increases receptor internalization. These data suggest that 2-AG activation of CB(2) receptors may contribute to the proliferative response of microglial cells, as occurs in neurodegenerative disorders.

Author List

Carrier EJ, Kearn CS, Barkmeier AJ, Breese NM, Yang W, Nithipatikom K, Pfister SL, Campbell WB, Hillard CJ


William B. Campbell PhD Chair, Professor in the Pharmacology and Toxicology department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Cecilia J. Hillard PhD Associate Dean, Center Director, Professor in the Pharmacology and Toxicology department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Sandra L. Pfister PhD Professor in the Pharmacology and Toxicology department at Medical College of Wisconsin


2-s2.0-1842428537   252 Citations

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Analysis of Variance
Arachidonic Acids
Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators
Cell Division
Cells, Cultured
Enzyme Activation
Flow Cytometry
Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor
Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2
jenkins-FCD Prod-353 9ccd8489072cb19f5b9f808bb23ed672c582f41e