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The cannabinoid ligands SR141716A and AM251 enhance human and mouse islet function via GPR55-independent signalling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4709-4723
Number of pages15
JournalCellular and Molecular Life Sciences
Issue number22
Published1 Nov 2020

King's Authors


Aims: Endocannabinoids are lipid mediators involved in the regulation of glucose homeostasis. They interact with the canonical cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2, and it is now apparent that some cannabinoid receptor ligands are also agonists at GPR55. Thus, CB1 antagonists such as SR141716A, also known as rimonabant, and AM251 act as GPR55 agonists in some cell types. The complex pharmacological properties of cannabinoids make it difficult to fully identify the relative importance of CB1 and GPR55 in the functional effects of SR141716A, and AM251. Here, we determine whether SR141716A and AM251 regulation of mouse and human islet function is through their action as GPR55 agonists. Methods: Islets isolated from Gpr55+/+ and Gpr55−/− mice and human donors were incubated in the absence or presence of 10 µM SR141716A or AM251, concentrations that are known to activate GPR55. Insulin secretion, cAMP, IP1, apoptosis and β-cell proliferation were quantified by standard techniques. Results: Our results provide the first evidence that SR141716A and AM251 are not GPR55 agonists in islets, as their effects are maintained in islets isolated from Gpr55−/− mice. Their signalling through Gq-coupled cascades to induce insulin secretion and human β-cell proliferation, and protect against apoptosis in vitro, indicate that they have direct beneficial effects on islet function. Conclusion: These observations may be useful in directing development of peripherally restricted novel therapeutics that are structurally related to SR141716A and AM251, and which potentiate glucose-induced insulin secretion and stimulate β-cell proliferation.

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