Role for neuronal nitric-oxide synthase in cannabinoid-induced neurogenesis

Hee Kim Sun, Joon Won Seok, Ou Mao Xiao, Catherine Ledent, Kunlin Jin, David A. Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Cannabinoids, acting through the CB1 cannabinoid receptor (CB1R), protect the brain against ischemia and related forms of injury. This may involve inhibiting the neurotoxicity of endogenous excitatory amino acids and downstream effectors, such as nitric oxide (NO). Cannabinoids also stimulate neurogenesis in the adult brain through activation of CB1R. Because NO has been implicated in neurogenesis, we investigated whether cannabinoid-induced neurogenesis, like cannabinoid neuroprotection, might be mediated through alterations in NO production. Accordingly, we measured neurogenesis in dentate gyrus (DG) and subventricular zone (SVZ) of CB1R-knockout (KO) and wild-type mice, some of whom were treated with the cannabinoid agonist R(+)-Win 55212-2 [(+)-[2,3-dihydro-5- methyl-3-[(morpholinyl)methyl]pyrrolo[1,2,3-de]-1,4-benzoxazin-yl] -(1-naphthalenyl)methanone] or the NO synthase (NOS) inhibitor 7-nitroindazole (7-NI). NOS activity was increased by ∼25%, whereas bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) labeling of newborn cells in DG and SVZ was reduced by ∼50% in CB1R-KO compared with wild-type mice. 7-NI increased BrdU labeling in both DG and SVZ and to a greater extent in CB1R-KO than in wild-type mice. In addition, R(+)-Win 55212-2 and 7-NI enhanced BrdU incorporation into neuron-enriched cerebral cortical cultures to a similar maximal extent and in nonadditive fashion, consistent with a shared mechanism of action. Double-label confocal microscopy showed coexpression of BrdU and the neuronal lineage marker doublecortin (Dcx) in DG and SVZ of untreated and 7-NI-treated CB1R-KO mice, and 7-NI increased the number of Dcx- and BrdU/Dcx-immunoreactive cells in SVZ and DG. Thus, cannabinoids appear to stimulate adult neurogenesis by opposing the antineurogenic effect of NO.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)150-154
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2006


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