The Estrous Cycle Influences the Effects of Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase and Monoacylglycerol Lipase Inhibition in the Anxiety-Like Behavior in Rats

Background: Sex differences in the response to the anxiety-related effects of cannabinoid drugs have been reported, with females being more sensitive than males. Evidence suggests that, according to sex and estrous cycle phase (ECP), the content of the endocannabinoids (eCBs) N-arachidonoylethanolamine (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) varies in brain areas involved in the anxiety-like behavior. Methods: Considering the lack of studies evaluating sex and ECP differences in the eCB system in anxiety, using URB597, a fatty acid amide hydrolase inhibitor, or MJN110, a monoacylglycerol lipase inhibitor, we explored the effects of increasing AEA or 2-AG levels, respectively, in cycling and ovariectomized (OVX) female adult Wistar rats, as well as males, subjected to the elevated plus maze. Results: The administration of URB597 (0.1 or 0.3mg/kg; intraperitoneally) either increased or reduced the percentage of open arms time (%OAT) and open arms entries (%OAE), being anxiolytic in diestrus and anxiogenic in estrus. No effects were observed in proestrus or when all ECPs were analyzed together. Both doses produced anxiolytic-like effects in males. In OVX females, the anxiolytic-like effect of URB597 0.1 was associated with low levels of estradiol, whereas the anxiogenic-like effect of URB597 0.3 was spared by estradiol pretreatment. The systemic administration of MJN110 3.0 mg/kg reduced the risk assessment behavior (RAB), suggesting an anxiolytic-like effect independent of the ECP. When considering the ECP, MJN110 3.0 increased the %OAT and reduced the RAB, being anxiolytic in estrus and diestrus. No effects were observed in proestrus. Both doses of MJN110 were anxiogenic in males. In OVX females, the anxiolytic-like effect of MJN110 was dependent on low estradiol levels. Conclusion: Together, our findings support the evidence that females react differently to the effects of cannabinoids in the anxiety-like behavior; in addition, AEA and 2-AG modulation elicits anxiety-like responses that are closely influenced by hormone levels, mainly estradiol.


2-AG; anandamide; elevated plus maze; endocannabinoid system; estradiol; sex differences.

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