Overactive endocannabinoid signaling impairs apolipoprotein E-mediated clearance of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins

Maxwell A Ruby, Daniel K Nomura, Carolyn S S Hudak, Lara M Mangravite, Sally Chiu, John E Casida, Ronald M Krauss

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59 Citations (Scopus)


The endocannabinoid (EC) system regulates food intake and energy metabolism. Cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1) antagonists show promise in the treatment of obesity and its metabolic consequences. Although the reduction in adiposity resulting from therapy with CB1 antagonists may not account fully for the concomitant improvements in dyslipidemia, direct effects of overactive EC signaling on plasma lipoprotein metabolism have not been documented. The present study used a chemical approach to evaluate the direct effects of increased EC signaling in mice by inducing acute elevations of endogenously produced cannabinoids through pharmacological inhibition of their enzymatic hydrolysis by isopropyl dodecylfluorophosphonate (IDFP). Acute IDFP treatment increased plasma levels of triglyceride (TG) (2.0- to 3.1-fold) and cholesterol (1.3- to 1.4-fold) in conjunction with an accumulation in plasma of apolipoprotein (apo)E-depleted TG-rich lipoproteins. These changes did not occur in either CB1-null or apoE-null mice, were prevented by pretreatment with CB1 antagonists, and were not associated with reduced hepatic apoE gene expression. Although IDFP treatment increased hepatic mRNA levels of lipogenic genes (Srebp1 and Fas), there was no effect on TG secretion into plasma. Instead, IDFP treatment impaired clearance of an intravenously administered TG emulsion, despite increased postheparin lipoprotein lipase activity. Therefore, overactive EC signaling elicits an increase in plasma triglyceride levels associated with reduced plasma TG clearance and an accumulation in plasma of apoE-depleted TG-rich lipoproteins. These findings suggest a role of CB1 activation in the pathogenesis of obesity-related hypertriglyceridemia and underscore the potential efficacy of CB1 antagonists in treating metabolic disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14561-14566
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS)
Issue number38
Early online date15 Sep 2008
Publication statusPublished - 23 Sep 2008
Externally publishedYes

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