R(+)-methanandamide and other cannabinoids induce the expression of cyclooxygenase-2 and matrix metalloproteinases in human nonpigmented ciliary epithelial cells.

Research paper by Susanne S Rösch, Robert R Ramer, Kay K Brune, Burkhard B Hinz

Indexed on: 07 Dec '05Published on: 07 Dec '05Published in: The Journal of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics


Prostaglandins (PGs) and matrix metalloproteinases (MMP) have been implicated in lowering intraocular pressure (IOP) by facilitating aqueous humor outflow. A possible role of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) in this process was emphasized by findings showing an impaired COX-2 expression in the nonpigmented ciliary epithelium (NPE) of patients with primary open-angle glaucoma. Using human NPE cells, the present study therefore investigated the effect of the IOP-lowering cannabinoid R(+)-methanandamide [R(+)-MA] on the expression of COX-2 and different MMPs and tissue inhibitors of MMPs (TIMPs). R(+)-MA led to a concentration- and time-dependent increase of COX-2 mRNA expression. R(+)-MA-induced COX-2 expression was accompanied by time-dependent phosphorylations of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and p42/44 MAPK and was abrogated by inhibitors of both pathways. Moreover, R(+)-MA increased the mRNA and protein expression of MMP-1, MMP-3, MMP-9, and TIMP-1 but not that of MMP-2 and TIMP-2. Inhibition of COX-2 activity with NS-398 [N-[2-(cyclohexyloxy)-4-nitrophenyl]-methanesulfonamide] was associated with a virtually complete suppression of R(+)-MA-induced MMP-9 and TIMP-1 expression. Consistent with these data, MMP-9 and TIMP-1 expression was also induced by PGE2, a major COX-2 product. Two other COX-2-inducing cannabinoids, anandamide and Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol, caused the same pattern of MMP and TIMP expression as R(+)-MA both in the absence and presence of NS-398. Altogether, cannabinoids induce the production of several outflow-facilitating mediators in the human NPE. Our results further imply an involvement of COX-2-dependent PGs in MMP-9 and TIMP-1 expression. In conclusion, stimulation of intraocular COX-2 and MMP expression may represent a potential mechanism contributing to the IOP-lowering action of different cannabinoids.