RationaleManipulations of the endocannabinoid system could potentially produce therapeutic effects with minimal risk of adverse cannabis-like side effects. Inhibitors of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) increase endogenous levels of the cannabinoid-receptor agonist, anandamide, and show promise for treating a wide range of disorders. However, their effects on learning and memory have not been fully characterized.
ObjectivesWe determined the effects of five structurally different FAAH inhibitors in an animal model of working memory known to be sensitive to impairment by delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
MethodsA delayed nonmatching-to-position procedure was used in rats. Illuminated nosepoke holes were used to provide sample cues (left versus right) and record responses (correct versus incorrect) after delays ranging from 0 to 28 s. Various test drugs were given acutely up to two times per week before daily sessions.
ResultsOne FAAH inhibitor, AM3506 (3 mg/kg), decreased accuracy in the memory task. Four other FAAH inhibitors (URB597, URB694, PF-04457845, and ARN14633) and a monoacylglycerol lipase inhibitor (JZL184, which blocks the degradation of the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol) had no effect. Testing of AM3506 in combination with antagonists for receptors known to be affected by anandamide and other fatty acid amides indicated that the impairment induced by AM3506 was mediated by cannabinoid CB1 receptors, and not by alpha-type peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPAR-alpha) or vanilloid transient receptor potential cation channels (TRPV1).
ConclusionsFAAH inhibitors differ with respect to their potential for memory impairment, abuse liability, and probably other cannabis-like effects, and they should be evaluated individually for specific therapeutic and adverse effects.