Endocannabinoids exert numerous effects in the CNS under physiological and pathological conditions. The aim of the present study was to examine whether the endocannabinoid N-arachidonoyldopamine (NADA) may protect neurons in excitotoxically lesioned organotypic hippocampal slice cultures (OHSC). OHSC were excitotoxically lesioned by application of N–methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA, 50 μM) for 4 h and subsequently treated with different NADA concentrations (0.1 pM–50 μM) alone or in combination with cannabinoid receptor antagonists. NADA protected dentate gyrus granule cells and caused a slight reduction in the number of microglial cells. The number of degenerated neurons significantly decreased between 100 pM and 10 μM NADA (p < 0.05). To identify the responsive receptor type of NADA mediated neuroprotection, we applied the cannabinoid (CB) receptor 1 (CB1) inverse agonist/antagonist AM251, CB2 inverse agonist/antagonist AM630, abnormal-cannabidiol (abn-CBD)-sensitive receptor antagonist O-1918, transient receptor potential channel V1 (TRPV1) antagonist 6-iodonordihydrocapsaicin and A1 (TRPA1) antagonist HC-030031. Neuroprotective properties of low (1 nM) but not high (10 μM) NADA concentrations were solely blocked by AM251 and were absent in Symbol mice. AM630, O-1918, 6-iodonordihydrocapsaicin and HC-030031 showed no effects at all NADA concentrations applied. Our findings demonstrate that NADA protects dentate gyrus granule cells by acting via CB1. NADA reduced the number of microglial cells at distinct concentrations. TRPV1 and TRPA1 were not involved in NADA mediated neuroprotection. Thus, our data implicate that NADA mediated activation of neuronal CB1 may serve as a novel pharmacological target to mitigate symptoms of neuronal damage.Highlights
▸ NADA protects dentate gyrus neurons from excitotoxic damage. ▸ NADA mediated neuroprotection is mediated by cannabinoid receptor 1. ▸ TRPV1, CB2, abn-CBD-sensitive receptor or TRPA1 are not involved in NADA mediated effects. ▸ Endocannabinoids e.g. NADA are a promising group for treatment of neuronal injury.