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The Synthetic Cannabinoid URB447 Reduces Brain Injury and the Associated White Matter Demyelination after Hypoxia-Ischemia in Neonatal Rats.


The number of functions controlled by the endocannabinoid system in health and disease continues growing over the years. In the brain, these include the modulation of harmful events such as glutamate excitotoxicity, oxidative stress, and inflammation, mainly regulated by activation/blockade of CB1/CB2 cannabinoid receptors. In the present work, we evaluated the capacity of the CB1 antagonist/CB2 agonist synthetic cannabinoid URB447 on reducing neurodegeneration after brain injury. By using a model of hypoxia-ischemia (HI) in neonatal rats, we found that URB447 strongly reduced brain injury when administered before HI. A comparable effect was observed with the CB1 antagonist SR141716A, whereas the CB1 agonist WIN-55,212-2 reduced the effect of URB447. When administered 3 h after HI, which is considered a clinically feasible therapeutic window to treat perinatal brain injury in humans, URB447 reduced neurodegeneration and white matter damage. Markers of astrogliosis and microglial activation also appeared reduced. These results confirm the important role played by the endocannabinoid system in the neurodegenerative process and strongly encourage further research into the mechanisms of URB447-induced neuroprotection.

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