Cannabinoids and neuroprotection in global and focal cerebral ischemia and in neuronal cultures

T. Nagayama, A. D. Sinor, R. P. Simon, J. Chen, S. H. Graham, K. Jin, D. A. Greenberg

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Marijuana and related drugs (cannabinoids) have been proposed as treatments for a widening spectrum of medical disorders. R(+)-[2,3-dihydro- 5-methyl-3-[(morpholinyl)methyl]pyrrolo[1,2,3-de]-1,4-benzoxazin-yl]-(1- naphthalenyl) methanone mesylate (R(+)-WIN 55212-2), a synthetic cannabinoid agonist, decreased hippocampal neuronal loss after transient global cerebral ischemia and reduced infarct volume after permanent focal cerebral ischemia induced by middle cerebral artery occlusion in rats. The less active enantiomer S(-)-WIN 55212-3 was ineffective, and the protective effect of R(+)-WIN 55212-2 was blocked by the specific central cannabinoid (CB1) cannabinoid receptor antagonist N-(piperidin-1-yl)-5-(4-chlorophenyl)-1- (2,4-dichlorophenyl)-4-methyl-1H-pyrazole-3-carboxamide-hydrochloride. R(+)- WIN 55212-2 also protected cultured cerebral cortical neurons from in vitro hypoxia and glucose deprivation, but in contrast to the receptor-mediated neuroprotection observed in vivo, this in vitro effect was not stereoselective and was insensitive to CB1 and CB2 receptor antagonists. Cannabinoids may have therapeutic potential in disorders resulting from cerebral ischemia, including stroke, and may protect neurons from injury through a variety of mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2987-2995
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number8
StatePublished - 15 Apr 1999


  • Cannabinoid
  • Excitotoxicity
  • Glutamate
  • Infarct
  • Ischemia
  • Neuronal culture
  • Stroke


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