The endocannabinoid system in the brain and periphery plays a major role in controlling food intake and energy balance. We reported that tasting dietary fats was met with increased levels of the endocannabinoids, 2-arachidonoyl-sn-glycerol (2-AG) and anandamide, in the rat upper small intestine, and pharmacological inhibition of this local signaling event dose-dependently blocked sham feeding of fats.
We now investigated the contribution of peripheral endocannabinoid signaling in hyperphagia associated with chronic consumption of a western-style diet in mice ([WD] i.e., high fat and sucrose). Feeding patterns were assessed in male C57BL/6Tac mice maintained for 60days on WD or a standard rodent chow (SD), and the role for peripheral endocannabinoid signaling at CB1Rs in controlling food intake was investigated via pharmacological interventions.
In addition, levels of the endocannabinoids, 2-AG and anandamide, in the upper small intestine and circulation of mice were analyzed via liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry to evaluate diet-related changes in endocannabinoid signaling and the potential impact on food intake.
Mice fed WD for 60days exhibited large increases in body weight, daily caloric intake, average meal size, and rate of feeding when compared to control mice fed SD. Inhibiting peripheral CB1Rs with the peripherally-restricted neutral cannabinoid CB1 receptor antagonist, AM6545 (10mg/kg), significantly reduced intake of WD during a 6h test, but failed to modify intake of SD in mice. AM6545 normalized intake of WD, average meal size, and rate of feeding to levels found in SD control mice.
These results suggest that endogenous activity at peripheral CB1Rs in WD mice is critical for driving hyperphagia. In support of this hypothesis, levels of 2-AG and anandamide in both, jejunum mucosa and plasma, of ad-libitum fed WD mice increased when compared to SC mice. Furthermore, expression of genes for primary components of the endocannabinoid system (i.e., cannabinoid receptors, and endocannabinoid biosynthetic and degradative enzymes) was dysregulated in WD mice when compared to SC mice.
Our results suggest that hyperphagia associated with WD-induced obesity is driven by enhanced endocannabinoid signaling at peripheral CB1Rs.
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