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The endogenous cannabinoid anandamide increases human airway epithelial cell permeability through an arachidonic acid metabolite

Shang, V.C.M.; O'Sullivan, Saoirse; Kendall, D.A.; Roberts, Richard E.


V.C.M. Shang

Saoirse O'Sullivan

D.A. Kendall

Richard E. Roberts


Injury to the bronchial epithelium in respiratory diseases such as asthma and COPD results in the lossof barrier function and an elevated sensitivity to environmental insults. An increased release of theendogenous cannabinoid, anandamide in response to inhalation of allergen in asthmatic patients hasbeen reported. The aim of this study was, therefore, to determine the effects of endocannabinoids onbronchial epithelial cell permeability and to investigate the mechanisms involved.Calu-3 human bronchial epithelial cells were cultured at air–liquid interface to allow developmentof tight junctions. Changes in Transepithelial Electrical Resistance (TEER), a reflection of epithelial per-meability, were measured at various time points post-treatment, and expression of the tight junctionproteins, occludin and ZO-1, were determined using Western immunoblotting.Anandamide produced a significant reduction in TEER, which was unaffected by cannabinoid receptorantagonists, but attenuated by URB597, an inhibitor of fatty acid amide hydrolase, and by a combinationof cyclooxygenase (COX) and lipoxygenase (LOX) blockade. The anandamide metabolite, arachidonicacid, showed similar TEER decrease that was also prevented in the presence of COX and LOX inhibitor.Expression of occludin and ZO-1 were also reduced by anandamide.These findings indicate a pro-inflammatory-like effect of anandamide on bronchial epithelial per-meability, mediated by cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase metabolites, and suggest that inhibition ofanandamide degradation might provide a novel approach to treat airway inflammation.


Shang, V., O'Sullivan, S., Kendall, D., & Roberts, R. E. (2016). The endogenous cannabinoid anandamide increases human airway epithelial cell permeability through an arachidonic acid metabolite. Pharmacological Research, 105,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 19, 2016
Online Publication Date Jan 22, 2016
Publication Date Mar 2, 2016
Deposit Date Aug 3, 2016
Journal Pharmacological Research
Print ISSN 1043-6618
Electronic ISSN 1096-1186
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 105
Keywords Anandamide; Bronchial epithelium; Chronic airway inflammation; Endocannabinoid; Permeability; Tight junction
Public URL
Publisher URL
Contract Date Aug 3, 2016

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