viernes, 31 de agosto de 2012

Anandamide (arachidonylethanolamide), a brain cannabinoid receptor agonist

Anandamide (arachidonylethanolamide) is an endogenous cannabinoid receptor agonist in mammalian brain. Sea urchin sperm contain a high-affinity cannabinoid receptor similar to the cannabinoid receptor in mammalian brain. (-)-delta 9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive cannabinoid in marihuana, reduces the fertilizing capacity of sea urchin sperm by blocking the acrosome reaction that normally is stimulated by a specific ligand in the egg's jelly coat. We now report that anandamide produces effects similar to those previously obtained with THC in Strongylocentrotus purpuratus in reducing sperm fertilizing capacity and inhibiting the egg jelly-stimulated acrosome reaction. Arachidonic acid does not inhibit the acrosome reaction under similar conditions. The adverse effects of anandamide on sperm fertilizing capacity and the acrosome reaction are reversible. The receptivity of unfertilized eggs to sperm and sperm motility are not impaired by anandamide. Under conditions where anandamide completely blocks the egg jelly-stimulated acrosome reaction, it does not inhibit the acrosome reaction artificially initiated by ionomycin, which promotes Ca2+ influx, and nigericin, which activates K+ channels in sperm. These findings provide additional evidence that the cannabinoid receptor in sperm plays a role in blocking the acrosome reaction, indicate that anandamide or a related molecule may be the natural ligand for the cannabinoid receptor in sea urchin sperm, and suggest that binding of anandamide to the cannabinoid receptor modulates stimulus-secretion-coupling in sperm by affecting an event prior to ion channel opening.