Cannabinoids exert a profound impact on the hypothalamic control of biological processes such as reproduction and energy homeostasis. The overall goal of this proposal is to gain a better understanding of the cannabinoid regulation of appetite, core body temperature, metabolism, and the cellular mechanism(s) by which they affect the excitability of proopiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons in the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus to alter these actions. The fundamental hypothesis is that cannabinoids modulate energy balance in a sex-dependent fashion that can be differentially influenced by gonadal steroid hormones. They do so by 1) presynaptically altering the balance between excitatory + and inhibitory neurotransmission and 2) augmenting postsynaptic K currents, thereby reducing POMC neuronal activity in a manner that is sexually differentiated and dependent on the gonadal steroid milieu. Cannabinoid regulation of energy homeostasis and synaptic transmission onto appetite-suppressing POMC neurons will be studied using a guinea pig animal model. Females are ovariectomized and males orchidectomized one week prior to experimentation, respectively.
In Specific Aim 1, I will evaluate the mechanisms through which androgens and estrogens differentially modulate the cannabinoid regulation of energy balance by assessing how they influence 1) the capability of CB1 receptor agonists and antagonists to alter food intake, meal pattern, core body temperature, O2 consumption, CO2 and metabolic heat production, 2) endogenous cannabinoid production and subsequent presynaptic inhibition of excitatory glutamatergic and inhibitory GABAergic synaptic input onto POMC neurons, and 3) the activity and expression of critical energy-sensing enzymes, under different dietary and motivational conditions.
In Specific Aim 2, the objective is to determine the receptor subtype(s) through which estrogens attenuate the cannabinoid modulation of energy balance. Specifically, I will evaluate whether agonists for the Gq-coupled membrane estrogen receptor m(ER), ER?, ER? and/or GPR30 diminish cannabinoid-induced changes in energy intake and expenditure, as well the presynaptic inhibition of glutamatergic input onto POMC neurons. This proposal describes an integrated approach to study sex differences in, and gonadal steroid hormonal on, the cannabinoid regulation of energy balance, and will elucidate the relevant cellular mechanisms that predetermine the sensitivity of males and females to the acute perturbation of energy intake and expenditure very early in cannabinoid abuse.

Public Health Relevance

When talking about sex differences in the cannabinoid regulation of energy balance, we mean that there are differences between males and females in their sensitivity to cannabinoid- induced changes in energy intake and expenditure. This project is right in line with one of the major goals of NIDA, which is to promote the conduct of research on sex/gender differences and women's health relating to drugs of abuse. The findings generated from this research will advance our understanding of exactly how cannabinoid intoxication increases appetite and alters metabolism more effectively in males than in females. They also will heighten our awareness that the therapeutic effectiveness of cannabinoids in treating cancer- and AIDS-related body wasting, as well as obesity, may differ between men and women, which will necessitate the development of gender-specific strategies for improving these conditions.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Academic Research Enhancement Awards (AREA) (R15)
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Neuroendocrinology, Neuroimmunology, Rhythms and Sleep Study Section (NNRS)
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Volman, Susan
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Western University of Health Sciences
Other Basic Sciences
Schools of Osteopathic Medicine
United States
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Qiu, Jian; Bosch, Martha A; Meza, Cecilia et al. (2018) Estradiol Protects Proopiomelanocortin Neurons Against Insulin Resistance. Endocrinology 159:647-664
Qiu, J; Wagner, E J; Rønnekleiv, O K et al. (2018) Insulin and leptin excite anorexigenic pro-opiomelanocortin neurones via activation of TRPC5 channels. J Neuroendocrinol 30:
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Borgquist, Amanda; Meza, Cecilia; Wagner, Edward J (2015) The role of AMP-activated protein kinase in the androgenic potentiation of cannabinoid-induced changes in energy homeostasis. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 308:E482-95
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